Meal Kit Reviews: Home Chef’s Parisian Bistro Bone-In Chicken with dauphinoise potatoes and Vichy carrots

Rating: 9/10

The key to  making this dish of chicken with dauphinoise potatoes and Vichy carrots  is to not overcook the chicken.  Seriously.  The plate I served first was great.  The chicken skin was incredibly crispy (it’s nice to finally learn the secret of making crispy chicken!), the chicken itself was moist (I tend to prefer dark meat exactly because breasts are often too dry) and the sauce was just delicious.  I only really got to eat my daughter’s leftovers, but I couldn’t help moaning while eating them.

I reserved the second serving for my husband, who was walking the dog while my very hungry daughter ate.  I left the chicken breast in the oven (turned off and with the door open), where it dried up and I was reminded of why I hate white meat.  My husband, who likes chicken breast, wasn’t impressed either.  Once I ate his leftovers, I understood why.  So, if you make this kit, make sure to not overcook the chicken and not leave it in the oven to remain warm.

I also really enjoyed the dauphinoise potatoes – and there were enough for the three of us plus leftovers -, but they didn’t keep well.  The next day they lacked in flavor.  But hey, you are not going to eat them the next day.

Finally, everyone enjoyed the carrots (I didn’t try them as I don’t like carrots).

All in all, this was a much better meal than you would expect.  However, it was also more laborious than the other two I got that week, and it took far longer to prepare.

Now, for the secret of having super-crispy oven-baked chicken: first preheat oven to 400F.  Then saute the chicken breasts on olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes per side. Then place on a baking sheet and put in an oven for 24-28 minutes.

I got my first week of Home Chef at a discount, so I paid only about $8 for this meal.  Regular price would be $20 – which is a better deal than other home meal kits.

Chicken Demi-Glace Sauce

  • 2 tsp chicken-demi glace
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 large shallot, minced

On a saute pan, simmer ingredients together until the sauce thickens, 2-3 minutes.  Serve.

 

 


Meal Kit Reviews: Home Chef’s Jerk Steak Tacos with caramelized pineapple slaw

Of all the Home Chef’s meals I got on my first week, this kit for jerk steak tacos with caramelized pineapple slaw was my least favorite.  The biggest issue was that it wasn’t very filling.  With no starches to speak of (3 small flour tortillas don’t count for much), 5 ounces of beef won’t take you very far.

I also wasn’t thrilled with the flavor of the jerk sauce.  Don’t get wrong, it wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t anything spectacular either.

On the plus side, I did enjoy the pineapple slaw as part of the tacos.  By itself, it wasn’t very good, but in the tacos it added crunch and sweetness to the meat and worked very well.  The quality of the meat was good and the meal was very quickly put together.  It just needed something more.

I paid $8 for this meal as part of a first week deal.  Regular price is $20.

 


Meal Kit Review: Gobble’s Blackened Chicken with Marble Potatoes & Broccolini

This meal kit was completely forgetable. I cooked it. I ate it – and despite the fact that it’s only been a couple of weeks, I can’t remember it at all. I do remember given the leftover broccolini to the dog (I don’t like broccoli or its derivatives) and she gladly ate it (she eats anything that is not dog food). But the chicken? The potatoes? No idea. The sauce looks good, though, and I feel I had a positive impression of it.


Meal Kit Review: Gobble’s Curried Beef Bowl with Basmati Rice & Mini Samosas

Rating: 8/10

With the rush of the holidays, I’m running very behind on my meal kit reviews – but I haven’t stopped getting them.  My second week of Gobble, however, was a mistake.  I somehow had neglected to skip it for the first week of December so I got stuck with 3 kits that I didn’t choose.  Given that Gobble costs $79 for a 3-kit box, that was a costly mistake.  Fortunately, I had a $15 credit because of the mistake they made in my previous box, so it made getting this box more “palatable”.

I was also lucky that the three meals Gobble chose for me werethings that I would have ordered myself – and they were all quite good.

My favorite thing about Gobble is how quick and easy it is to prepare its meals.  They send as many pre-sliced and pre-cooked elements as they can without compromising quality, and this kit for Curried Beef Bowl with Basmati Rice & Mini Samosas was no exception.  The tiny samosas came pre-cooked, so all I had to do was heat them up.  They were very good and not too spicy.  We often get fresh samosas from one of our local Indian food stores, so I don’t say this lightly.

The main meal was simple to put together.  The rice came pre-cooked, and all I had to do was heat it in the microwave.  Gobble sends a very tasty precooked rice, which tastes even better than the one I make.  The meat was quickly sauteed on a pan, to which I added the curry powder, the pre-roasted carrots and peas, a pre-mixed garlic/ginger/scallion confit and chicken broth.

The results were great!  It was a very tasty meal and both my husband and I enjoyed it.  At $21, it was equivalent in price to the cost, before tax and tip, of take out – though, of course, we didn’t get leftovers as we do when we order out.  Alas, the whole meal was ready much quicker than it would take to get a restaurant meal delivered.


Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Chorizo-Spiced Cod with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, White Beans, and Toasted Sourdough

Despite this post’s title, this is not really a review of Plated‘s Chorizo-Spiced Cod with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, White Beans, and Toasted Sourdough.  And it’s not a review because I totally messed up the cod by mistakenly using balsamic vinegar instead of olive oil (those bottles can look so much alike!).  Needless to say, my results were inedible (even the dog wasn’t thrilled to have them).

But I was disappointed by this kit even before I ruined it.  When I read its title I assumed that there would be actual chorizo in the dish – I love chorizo and I was excited to try the combination of chorizo and fish.  Alas, there wasn’t any.  Instead there was a small package of some chorizo spice mix to rub on the fish.  It might have been good, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

So this was a lesson to not just look at the title of the meal kits, but go further and look at the ingredients to not feel duped.

Fortunately, I only paid $8 for this kit by using a $40-off Black Friday promotion.


Meal Kit Review: Home Chef’s Texas-Style Steak on Toast with smashed red potatoes and red onion gravy + recipes

Ratings: 8/10

Last week, it was my time to sample Home Chef meals, and all in all, they did pretty well.   This kit for Texas-Style Steak on Toast with smashed red potatoes and red onion gravy not only produced a very tasty meal, but it taught me recipes/techniques that I didn’t know and would use in the future.

First of all, who would have guessed that white bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with a tiny bit of salt before baking in the oven would be so tasty?  Of course, I’ve made crostini plenty of times, but the white bread seems to incorporate the flavor of the oil and remain soft inside in a way that crostini doesn’t.

The steak itself was better than I would have thought, and I enjoyed the onion sauce very much.  Once again, demi-glace showed its power.

I usually make mashed potatoes with large russet potatoes that I peel before boiling.  I really enjoyed the convenience of making it out of small red potatoes that I only needed to half before cooking.  It was a much faster approach (plus I hate peeling!) and the resulting mashed potatoes were very good.  The peel actually included some festive color to them.  I’m considering using this recipe to make mashed potatoes for my Christmas Eve dinner, but I’m not sure they’ll keep as well as my regular mashed potatoes.

The meal was simple to cook and the portion was adequate – in particular because mashed potatoes are filling.

I got my first week of Home Chef at a discount, so I paid only about $10 for this meal.  Regular price would be $20 – which is a better deal than other home meal kits.

Smashed Red Potatoes

serves 2

  • 12 oz small red potatoes
  • 2 oz sour cream
  • 1 oz butter
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Wash potatoes and then cut in half.  Place potatoes in a cooking pot and cover with about 1″ of water.  Add salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.  Mashed them with a potato masher, then add sour cream, butter and salt to taste and mix well.  Serve, garnished with the sliced green onions.

I got my first week of Home Chef at a discount, so I paid only about $8 for this meal.  Regular price would be $20 – which is a better deal than other home meal kits.

Red Onion Sauce

serves 2

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprila
  • 2 oz red wine
  • 2 tsp beef demi-glace

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until it starts to caramelize, 6-8 minutes.  Add paprika and red wine and continue cooking until the red wine has almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes.  Mix together the demi-glace and 1/4 cup of water and add to the pan.  Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, 2-3 minute. Serve over steak.


Meal Kit Review: Gobble’s Albacore Tuna with Pearl Couscous, Chermoula Vinaigrette

Rating: 7.5/10

I will admit that my review of this meal kit for Albacore Tuna with Pearl Couscous, Chermoula Vinaigrette is, of necessity, incomplete.  I made the tuna but didn’t make the couscous.  I was tired that night, we weren’t that hungry and I figured I’d make the couscous for my vegan daughter later.  Alas, I never did, and I ended up using up the peppers in a different recipe.

The tuna itself was very good.  The recipe required that it be sprinkled with tuna and paprika and then marinated and cooked in the pre-made chermoula vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette reminded me of chimichurri and it was delicious.

I did have some issues with cooking the tuna, however.  First, the recipe required broiling.  I have one of those ovens with a broiler underneath, and I haven’t cleaned it in a while, so I wasn’t up for using it.  I had to look up an alternative way to cook the tuna.  More problematically is that the two tuna steaks that came in my kit were very different in thickness – one was twice as thick as the other.  That meant that I couldn’t cook them at the same time as otherwise one would be very overcooked (and as it turned out, it was).

Still, both my husband and I enjoyed the tuna and I’ll be looking to re-create this dish with my own ingredients at a future time.


Meal Kit Review: Gobble’s Seared Flat Iron Steak with Baby Carrots & Harissa Green Lentils

 

Rating: 8/10

Gobble distinguishes itself from other meal kit companies by offering meal kits that can be put together in just 15 minutes.  They do this by including some pre-prepared ingredients and having simpler meals than their competitors.

This meal kit for Seared Flat Iron Steak with Baby Carrots & Harissa Green Lentils consisted of just four ingredients: beef, carrots, pre-cooked lentils and their version of harissa sauce.  The beef was supposed to be flat iron steaks.  Instead, I got a bunch of beef slices labeled flatiron.  The quality of the meat was quite good and the beef was very tasty, however.  The small, multi-color carrots were very cute but ultimately they just tasted like carrots.  The lentils just needed to be warmed up in the microwave and then mixed with the harissa sauce.  They were very good.  The meal was a bit unbalanced, however.  There were plenty of lentils and carrots but not enough beef – perhaps this was because I was sent the wrong package.

Preparation seemed a little over complicated.  The beef had to be seared on both sides, then the carrots had to be added to the pan and the beef transferred on top of them, then the whole pan had to be put in the oven for 2-3 minutes, then the beef removed and the carrots cooked for some more time on the stove top with some water.  But having to use the oven meant pre-heating it, which to me added needless time and made it a waste of gas.  Now, this probably would have been a simpler process if I had two steaks rather than a bunch of slices – which cooled down quickly while I was finishing the carrots.

Still, the whole process was fairly quick – though probably longer than 15 minutes, but I’m a slow cook.

I sent Gobble’s customer service a picture of the meat and they apologized and gave me a $15 credit, which I got to use as I forgot to cancel/suspend the service for the following weeks.

All in all, I was very pleased with this meal, in particular the quality of the beef.

 


Meal Kit Review: Plated Scallop Penne with Mint-Spinach Pesto, Roasted Mushrooms, and Walnuts

Rating: 7/10

We never eat enough seafood – as only two of us in the family like it -, so I decided to order seafood dishes for my first week with Plated.  It was a bad move as my husband ended up being out four out of five nights this week, but I made this one for our sole dinner together.  It was a modest success.

The meal kit for Scallop Penne with Mint-Spinach Pesto, Roasted Mushrooms, and Walnuts consists of 4 components: baby scallops which are simply seared, a spinach pesto which you make in the blender, mushrooms and walnuts which you toast in the oven and pasta, which you cook and  mix with peas.  That meant the use of three pans plus the blender, which for someone like me without a dishwasher, is a little more washing that I like to do.  I also wasn’t excited about having to roast the mushrooms and walnuts in the oven, as it seems to me a waste of gas to have to preheat the oven for just this purpose.  I wish Plated’s recipes were a bit more efficient.

All that said, the meal was very simple to put together and cook.  I was very happy with the spinach pesto, which seems like a good way to get some veggies into your diet.  I was hoping I could make the pesto vegan by not adding the Parmesan, but without it it had a terrible flavor.  With it, it was perfectly balanced.  I should note that I added the whole package of Parmesan, not just half.

The other problem with this meal kit is that it didn’t include enough walnuts or mushrooms (there were maybe 5 walnuts and 3 mushrooms for the whole meal).  It was good as it was, but more of the two would have made it better.

I was afraid that the meal wouldn’t be large enough for two, but we were both satisfied after eating it.

As a final point I should note that the scallops arrived semi-frozen.  I don’t know if that’s because they were frozen to begin with or whether they semi-froze by being in contact with the freezer sheets.

All in all it’s a good meal and I will make the spinach pesto again (recipe below).

Spinach Pesto

  • 1 1/2 oz spinach leaves
  • 1/8 ounce mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 oz Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Using an electric blender, pure together the spinach and mint leaves, garlic, cheese, olive oil and water.  Once you have a smooth paste, mix in the lemon juice and salt.


Meal Kit Review: Gobble Thai Basil Tofu with Brown Rice

Rating: 7/10

I forgot to cancel or skip Gobble after my first week trial, so I found myself getting the default meals for this week.  Of course, I had to pay full price for them (minus the $15 credit I got because they had sent me the wrong meat last time).  Given my previous experience with Gobble, I wasn’t altogether upset at my error and I was happy to get a kit that I assume is vegan.

Gobble distinguishes itself from other meal kit companies by delivering kits that can be prepared in 15 minutes (maybe 20 for those of us who are slow in the kitchen).  They do this by pre-dicing and pre-cooking some ingredients and including prepared sauces/spice mixes (other meal kit companies do the latter).  In this case, the rice came pre-cooked and just needed to be heated up in the microwave, and the tofu came pre-cubed.  I still had to trim and cut the green beans, slice the garlic, remove the stems from the basil leaves and, had I used the chilies, I’d have had to slice them.

While I prepared the veggies, my teen daughter actually cooked the meal and she found it to be quite simple to put together. She doesn’t like peppers, so she didn’t use them in this dish.  She was quite happy with the results, and particularly loved the rice.  The tofu, alas, tasted like tofu, but she hasn’t encountered a recipe in which it tastes of anything else (e.g. where it actually absorbs the sauce).

The only concern we had about the meal is that it wasn’t a big enough portion for two people.  She ate more than half for dinner (the photo shows the leftovers which she had for after-school snack the next day).

From my perspective, the main issue with this kit is that it’s really expensive for what you get and not distinctive enough.  My daughter has been making herself stir fries with just as much ease for just a few dollars.  Also, while this meal might have been vegan, Gobble doesn’t offer enough vegan/vegetarian meals for vegan/vegetarians to have choices every week.