Review: Hello Fresh’ Tex-Mex Cheese-Stuffed Burgers with Tomato Salsa and Potato Wedges

Rating: 8/10

I decided to get this kit after really enjoying the last Hello Fresh burgers I got. They were definitely better than the ones I made myself. It occurred to me after I order this kit, however, that my burgers may not be as good because I usually use low fat ground beef. I tried making them with 27% fat ground beef and it was a completely different story – they were delicious!

And this is a good thing because I ended up using my own ground beef to make this recipe – I had used the one from the kit earlier in the week to make plain burgers, and yes, the meat was great. Really, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

These burgers were also very tasty – though the tex-mex spice sort of overwhelmed the meat. I particularly liked the tomato-cilantro salsa. It gave the right counter of freshness to the spiciness of the “crema,” but it was hard to keep on the burger, it just kept sliding off!

I also ended up using my potatoes – having made the ones from the kit previously – and the addition of the tex-mex spice worked very well on these.

All in all, it was a very satisfying lunch, but really, one you don’t need a kit to make it. Still, I paid a tad over $11 for this kit with a “welcome back promo”, so I’m not complaining. I would if I’d paid the $20 standard price.


Review: Hello Fresh’ Cheesy Smothered Mushroom Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots

Rating: 7/10

Cheesy Smothered Mushroom Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots

This kit for Cheesy Smothered Mushroom Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots provided another good-but-not-great meal from Hello Fresh. My husband enjoyed it, but wasn’t wowed. I see no great reason why to make it again, and none of the components were good enough that they merit sharing the recipe.

The ingredients were fine, but even though Hello Fresh has increased their prices (by $1), they don’t match the quality of those sent by Blue Apron. I got chicken stock instead of demi glace and sour cream instead of creme fraiche.

All in all, this meal was what I paid for, $11 for the kit ($5.65 pp), with a “welcome back” promo I got in the mail. I still have a couple of codes for free boxes of HelloFresh if someone wants them.


Review: Crispy Pork Milanese with Cheesy Potatoes and Blistered Tomatoes

Rating: 7/10

This meal kit was a mixed bag. The pork milanese was sort of bland and it really needed acidity. The blistered tomatoes just didn’t provide enough of it. It was good with lemon juice, but not extraordinary.

I did like the cheesy mashed potatoes a lot – but what’s not to like about cheesy mashed potatoes?

I think my favorite thing about the kit was getting the eggs in their little container. Plus they were cool eggs. I only had to use one, and it had the darkest yolk I’ve ever seen.




Review: Hello Fresh’ Melty Monterey Jack Burgers with Red Onion Jam, Garlic Mayo, and Crispy Breaded Zucchini

Rating: 9/10

I made this kit for my husband and daughter, and they were both very pleased with it. A burger may seem like a trivial thing to make, but making a new and exciting burger and getting the right amount of fat in the meat – and the right quality meat – is not always easy. Given how expensive burgers have become, even at the regular price of $21 per kit this would have been a good meal, but I got the whole kit for $11 with a promo (make sure to always check on the right hand menu for referral links with promo), which was a super bargain.

BTW, keeping the buns in the oven and then toasting them seems tow ork very well.


Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh’ Sirloin and Horseradish Cream Sauce with Garlic Bread and Roasted Carrots

Rating 5/10

This meal kit for Sirloin and Horseradish Cream Sauce with Garlic Bread and Roasted Carrots may be the first HelloFresh kit that really failed to impress me. It was acceptable dinner fare, but very pedestrian. There were no new flavors here, no tricks, no recipes I’d care to copy and repeat. It was ultimately what it looks like: meat with carrots and garlic bread, with some onions and sour cream. I’ve had it all before (indeed, I had pretty much the same dish concept from EveryPlate – HelloFresh’ cheaper meal kit brand). Moreover, it seems to me that HelloFresh is trying to cut corners and send out cheaper ingredients and ask cooks to include more and more staples of their own to the meals.

The main ingredient of this meal was the sirloin and I was unimpressed with the quality. The meat was tough and wasn’t particularly flavorful. The two steaks sent had very different shapes from each other and, as you can see above, they were partly discolored, which took from their visual appeal (at least before cooking).

The steak was stopped with sliced onions cooked with beef stock which were fine, but unremarkable. I wondered if HelloFresh was cutting corners by not including demi-glace instead of the stock concentrate.

The accompanying horseradish sauce was also disappointing. It was basically sour cream with a few green onions and horseradish powder. I think it might have been better with some prepared horseradish.

The carrots were just carrots – not my thing but my husband happily ate them just like he has every other time a kit has included carrots.

Finally, the garlic bread included the same “semi-baguette” buns that were included in the EveryPlate meal I referenced above. Once again, I really liked the consistency of the buns. I didn’t like that I had to provide my own butter – I understand that from EveryPlate, but I expect more from HelloFresh -, and I specially didn’t like that the kit included garlic powder instead of fresh garlic.

At the end of the day, however, I am likely to blame for choosing this kit. But I’ve noticed that I’m not particularly excited by many of HelloFresh’ kits – I’ll be suspending for several weeks now as I can’t find much in their upcoming menu I actually want to eat.

Update: I have 3 referrals for 1-week free of HelloFresh. E-mail me if you’d like one.


Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh’ Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Garlic Herb Couscous and Lemony Roasted Carrots + Recipe

Rating: 7/10

Believe it or not, in my half century in this earth, I’d never had Parmessan chicken. Indeed, I’ve never though of cheese and chicken as two ingredients that belonged together. Still, this recipe for Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Garlic Herb Couscous and Lemony Roasted Carrots sounded like something my picky younger daughter would eat – after all, the chicken looks like a chicken milanesa, and she loves milanesas.

Once again, this was a pretty simple recipe to put together and it didn’t really have any exotic ingredients (Israeli couscous was exotic once upon a time, but it’s now easily available). You can make it with ingredients easily found at the supermarket. Still, the chicken was moist and tasty – the smokiness of the paprika really came through. I quite enjoyed it.

The couscous, however, lacked flavor. It would have been better if some of the Parmessan for the chicken (there was more than enough) was used for the couscous.

I don’t like carrots, but my husband – who ate mine – thought the lemony carrots were good. All you do is roast carrot sticks for 20 minutes, with a little olive oil and salt, and then sprinkle grated lemon zest and lemon juice on them. My daughter, who also tried them, wasn’t fond of them, however.

For some reason, the recipe for the chicken called to only bread it on one side. It didn’t say why, so I breaded it on both. It was a good call.

I cooked this kit the day after I got it, and all the ingredients were fresh and I felt of good quality.

I paid $14 for this meal after a discount or $7 per serving. I think that was an appropriate price for a home cooked meal, though obviously I could put it together for less than that if I bought the ingredients myself.

The recipe for the chicken is below. While it calls for 2 chicken breasts, there was enough breading for a third one. It serves two.

Crispy Parmesan Chicken

  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~6 oz each)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream

Preheat oven to 425F Line a baking sheet.

In a medium to large bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and paprika.

Dry chicken breasts with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush sour cream over both sides of the breasts. Transfer them one by one to the breadcrumbs bowl and press breading onto the chicken surface. Transfer them to the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.


Meal Kit Review: Breaded Pork Cutlets with Garlic Bread and an Apple and Sunflower Seed Salad + Recipes

Rating: 8/10

Some times the best meals are the simplest. There is nothing complicated about this HelloFresh meal of Breaded Pork Cutlets with Garlic Bread and an Apple and Sunflower Seed Salad. Nothing exotic. It can be simply put together with supermarket staples that won’t have you searching around up and down the aisles and things you already have in your pantry. And it’s very tasty and very satisfying.

All the ingredients came fresh and stayed that way, even though I cooked the meal four days after it arrived. The pork wasn’t dry and the seasoning was spot on. However, they listed the amount of kosher salt to add, but they neither included it in the kit or listed kosher salt as a needed ingredient. I didn’t have kosher salt around, so I used a smaller amount of table salt. The original recipe called for breading the pork in a plastic bag, but I used a bowl as I didn’t have a gallon ziplock bag around and I’m already using too much plastic by getting these meal kits. A bowl worked just as well.

I very much enjoyed the salad. Mine came with mixed greens – though I see HelloFresh also offers it with just arugula – and a yellow apple (golden delicious?). The dressing was olive oil and lemon juice – I’ve not been fond of this combination in other salads, but it worked here. The star of the show were the sunflower seeds, however, which added crunch and a faint sweetness to the whole thing.

I’m not giving this kit a perfect 10, however, because Hello Fresh did not include the butter needed to make the garlic bread and I didn’t have any at home. I suppose I could have looked at the list of ingredients that I needed to have at hand for this recipe before I chose it, but the whole point of meal kits is to not have to go shopping for the ingredients. Particularly in the case of this meal, where all the ingredients are so easily available, if I’m going shopping for butter, I might as well pick up the rest and cook the meal for a fraction of the cost. I understand that Hello Fresh is trying to save money by not providing the butter, but it’s still not cool.

In any case, I think oven-baked garlic bread is not a good choice for this meal. Both the pork and the salad can be put together rather quickly, but making the garlic bread requires preheating the oven, which is both a waste of energy for such a small meal, and a waste of time. Instead, they could have suggested toasting the bread in the same pan where the pork was cooked.

I’m also dinging the recipe because I was still hungry when I finished – even though I ate a lot of salad (there was plenty of it). Perhaps that’s due to not being able to make & eat the garlic bread.

After the discount, I paid $14 for this kit or $7 per serving (regular price would have been $20/kit or $10/serving).

BREADED PORK CUTLETS

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 pork cutlets
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into 2 wedges

In a medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, salt and spices. In a different bowl or plate, coat pork cutlets with sour cream (you may need to use your fingers to spread it). Transfer the cutlets to the bowl with the breadcrumbs and coat well.

Heat a 1/4″ layer of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, transfer cutlets into the skillet and fry on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to absorb extra oil. Serve with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze on the cutlets.

APPLE AND SUNFLOWER SEED SALAD

  • 1 apple
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 oz spring mix
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 oz sunflower seeds

Core the apple and slice into thin slices. Thinly slice the celery.

Put apple, celery and spring mix into a medium bowl. Dress with olive oil. Squeeze the lemon half on it and mix. Add the sunflower seeds and mix again.


Meal Kit Review: Hello Fresh’ Creamy Dill Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans + Recipe

Rating: 7/10

This week I went back to Hello Fresh, as I didn’t like the offerings of any of the services I hadn’t yet tried – and I was given a good deal ($20 off each of 4 boxes) for re-activating my account. I got just two meals (which frankly, works better for us, as I’m always rushing to cook all kits before they go bad) and tonight I made the first one for my daughter and I. It was pretty good.

This meal of Creamy Dill Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans was extremely simple: you cut and bake some potatoes, baked some green beans, sauteed some chicken and then made a quick sour cream-mustard-dill sauce. Still, it was a tasty and satisfying meal and I very much enjoyed the sauce (recipe below). My daughter didn’t have any sauce, but she liked the other elements.

There were some problems, however. The main one is that there wasn’t enough sauce. What they sent was barely enough for one serving (so it was fortunate my daughter didn’t want to try it). They need to double the ingredients for it. Secondly, the chicken breasts were too thin and they cooked in less than the 4-6 minutes per side that they recommended. Also, the portion size was a bit on the small size (or I was particularly hungry).

This is a very easy meal to put together on your own, however. I think I will add dill to the herbs I grow on my window to be able to easily make it again.

After the discount, I paid $14 for this kit or $7 per serving (regular price would have been $20/kit or $10/serving).

Update: it’s spring and this kit now comes with asparagus instead of green beans. I ordered it again – forgetting I’d already had it – and served it to my husband this time. He loved the dill sauce. Once again, there wasn’t enough of it.

Creamy Dill Chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (12 oz)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tsp chicken stock concentrate
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 Tbsp water

Pat dry chicken breasts and season with salt & pepper. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add chicken breaths and cook until cooked through and golden, 3-6 minutes per side. Turn off heat, remove chicken and keep warm.

Add the sour cream, chicken stock concentrate, dill, mustard and water to the saute pan and mix well, scraping up the brown bits on the pan. Serve chicken with sauce.


Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Saucy Thyme Steak with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans Amandine + Recipes

Rating: 9/10

I, obviously, need a new camera – or something better than my I-pad, which always takes blurry pictures.  But I think even my out-of-focus picture of my thrown together Saucy Thyme Steak with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans Amandine is more appealing than HelloFresh‘s:

Saucy Thyme Steak

This, indeed, is one of the problem with HelloFresh: their photos don’t make the food appear particularly enticing. To be honest, neither does the description of the dishes.  Most of them sound totally boring – and yet everything I’ve had from them (albeit, it was just four meal kits) has tasted good, if not great.

And this recipe has probably been the best of the bunch.  The “ranch” steak was good in itself, but the pan sauce was amazing – it made me a convert to demi-glace.  I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but I liked them served in this manner and they were perfectly cooked (per the instructions), and not at all chalky, as they can get.  The combination with abundant thyme was also great.

And the green beans weren’t too shabby either. All in all, this meal was of the quality you’d expect at a nice restaurant (one in which they serve boring side dishes, as they do in my town).  Most amazingly, it wasn’t even part of HelloFresh’ “gourmet” offerings, so it was regular price ($22 to $24, depending on your plan).

All the ingredients in the kit arrived in good condition. I was a little surprised at just how much thyme there was, but it was all used.The recipe didn’t call for peeling the sweet potatoes, but I did anyway.  The only real issue is that one of the steaks was significantly thinner than the other, so it required less cooking.

The portions were good and we actually had leftover sweet potatoes/beans.

Making the meal was pretty straightforward, and the only thing I had to watch for was cooking each steak for a different amount of time given their relative thickness.

In all, if you have HelloFresh, I’d recommend this meal.  And if not, I’d recommend making it with your own ingredients.  You can sign up for HelloFresh using my referral link and get $40 off your first week, which is a very good deal.

Au Jus

Make this recipe on the pan where you’ve pan-grilled or broiled steak,with the pan juices are your base.

  • 1 Tbsp demi-glace
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • salt & pepper

Place pan with pan juices over medium-high heat and add the demi-glace and water, crapping the bits of browned meat from the pan.  Simmer until slight thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.  Turn heat off and mix in the butter.  Taste and season as needed.

Roasted Thyme  Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 small or 1 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes into 1/2″ cubes.  place on one layer on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove to serving plate, sprinkle almonds on top and serve.

Make the green beans amandine by following the recipe for the sweet potatoes above, don’t use thyme and cook for 15 minutes only. 


Meal Kit Review: HelloFresh Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema and Cilantro

Rating: 5/10

My oldest daughter is a vegan and I always find it challenging to know what to cook for her – or even to want to cook for her at all (fortunately, she’s learned her way around a wok).  So I was very curious to see how these meal kits would work for her.  Alas, while HelloFresh – the meal kit subscription I’m currently trying – seems to offer three vegetarian meals a week, they don’t really do vegan food.  No matter, some of the recipes can be easily made without the diary.  This recipe for  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema and Cilantro, for example, only uses diary in the crema – a blend of avocado and sour cream with lime zest and juice -, and it was easily enough to just omit the sour cream altogether and turn the crema into  a simple guacamole.

As this kit did not contain any meat, all the items came inside a paper bag.  My first week with HelloFresh, I just put these paper bags in the fridge without bothering to open them.  But after reading about wilted and missing items in HelloFresh kits, I decided to check whether all the items were there and in the right condition.

That was a good idea, as I found out that part of the cilantro was wilted and that the avocado wasn’t ripe.  I was thus able to discard the spoiled cilantro, keeping the leaves that weren’t yet gone.   It turned out that the only item in the kit that needed to be refrigerated was the small sachet of sour cream (which I wasn’t planning to use anyway),  so  I was able to just keep the kit inside its paper bag in the pantry, which allowed the avocado to ripen quicker than it would have otherwise.

All in all this kit was “OK,” but not one that I would buy again

The overall flavor of the food was underwhelming.  My daughter liked it well enough, but wouldn’t be eager to have it again.  Note that as a vegan, she is not particularly picky.

There was too little food.  The kit has six tortilla, but enough filling for just 4 tacos – and this despite the fact that I used the whole box of black beans, and not just half as the instructions called for.  Two vegetarian tacos (and these are a little larger than those at your average taqueria) are just not enough food for dinner, without rice or something else to accompany them.  Fortunately, I had made the whole kit for my daughter thinking she’d have leftovers for the next day, so she was able to eat a third taco and not go hungry.  But had she had to share this whole meal with someone else, she would have been.

The avocado wasn’t ripe when the kit arrived.  Had I wanted to make this meal kit that day, I’d have had to go buy another avocado.  Fortunately, by the time I decided to make it, two days later, it had ripened enough to use it.

The avocado was too small. Really, it reminded me of the tiny avocados you can get in the California cost for 5-for-$1.  There just wasn’t enough to cover 4 tacos.

There wasn’t enough cilantro and part of it came wilted.  I threw those parts away, but it left very little left.  Fortunately, this was the only non-fresh item I’ve gotten from HelloFresh.

The meal is greatly overpriced, not just in comparison with what it would cost to make this meal at home, but in comparison to the cost of tacos at taquerias (not that sweet potato tacos are that common).  And those generally come with free chips & salsa.

In all, because I bought this kit with a discount (and you can find an ever greater one by following my referral link) and only paid $7.50 for it, I wasn’t too disappointed.  It was cheaper than what I’d spend at a taqueria.  However, I’d be horrified if I’d bought it at the regular price ($22-24).  For that amount of money, you can have something much better at a top gourmet Mexican restaurant.