Review: Freshly’s Teriyaki Salmon Cakes and Ranch Chicken

Here are my reviews of my final two weeks of my Freshly subscription.

Teriyaki Salmon Cakes with Brown Rice & Spicy Green Beans

Rating 8/10

I got this meal for my husband – who, unlike me, likes salmon – and he liked it quite a lot. He liked the spice on the beans, and thought the rice & salmon was very flavorful. It was supposed to be salmon cakes with rice, mind you, but one of them came completely apart as I transferred them from the microwaved trade towards the plate.

I think the fact that you don’t need a knife to eat this meal is also a plus in terms of taking it with you to work.

This meal had 460 calroies, 20 grams of fat (4 saturated), 54 grams of carbs, 12 g of sugar and 560g of sodium, which is relatively low for Freshly. Only 18 g of protein, though.

Ranch Chicken with Broccoli-Cheddar Cakes

Rating 4/10

This was, by far, the worst Freshly meal I got in my first week. The chicken was tough and dry and the ranch sauce was pretty bland and tasteless. I’m not sure how you get Ranch sauce wrong – maybe when you are trying to make it healthier, but it was just so blah.

The cheddar broccoli cakes were only marginally more flavorful.

The meal had 500 calories, 20 g fat (7 saturated), 33 g of carbs & 9 sugar. It had 48 g of protein.

I paid a little under $7 for each of these meals, with a special offer.


Meal Kit Hack: HelloFresh’ Singapore-Style Hakka Noodles with Summer Veggies

Rating 8/10

For the first time, I got to cook a recipe that fit within two of my cooking projects. As a Hakka recipe, this meal of Singapore-Style Hakka Noodles with Summer Veggies fits into my International cuisines project. As a recipe from a meal kit, it fits into my meal kit hacks. Plus, it’s a vegan recipe, which I’m guessing will soon become a project of its own.

What’s even better, is that my daughter liked it! It’s one of the very few vegan meals she’s said she’d like me to make again.

It was, I must admit, more complicated than most of the stir fries that she eats so often now – and it used more pans – but hey, it’s all about the results. I tasted the noodles, and they were delicious – very much like the garlic noodles that you get at a variety of Asian restaurants. I’m definitely going to make them again just for me 🙂

Talking about noodles, I waited to make this dish until I could send my husband to the Asian supermarket to pick up some Hakka noodles. We usually shop at 88 Manor Market, where they have a zillion varieties of noodles, maybe more. But I also wanted him to pick up some pork belly for a different recipe and I wasn’t sure they’d have it there – so I asked him to go to Foodnet instead. I hadn’t been there before, however, and apparently Foodnet is the one noodle-free Chinese supermarket. Go figure. They did have a 4 lb box of Imperial Taste Dried Noodle, which turned out to be vermicelli-like noodles. According to the box, they had a “chewing taste!,” and they did prove to be nicely chewy. They worked great in this recipe even if they weren’t what Hakkas in Singapore would use.

I spent $10 to make this recipe, which resulted in two large bowls. That’s half of what the HelloFresh meal kit would cost (though this kit is from England, so you can’t get it anyway :-). As usual, I count the total cost of the ingredients I had to buy to make this meal, but not of the ones I already had at home.

Plated IngredientsMy IngredientsCost
200 g Hakka Noodles4 lbs Taiwanese dried noodle$5
10 g chives1 pckg fresh chives
(used less)
$2.3
30 g ginger1 lb ginger$2.3
1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce2 garlic cloves + 1/8 tsp chili saucepantry
1 Tbsp soy sauce1 Tbsp soy saucepantry
1 tsp mild curry powder1 tsp mild curry powderpantry
113 g julienned carrots1 carrot$0.2
1 zucchini1/2 zucchinipantry
113 g Green Peas1 cup grozen green peaspantry
200 g extra-firm tofu8 oz extra-firm tofupantry

I will link to my version of the recipe once I post it on my International Cuisines site.


Review: Freshly’s BBQ Shredded Beef & Rustic Chicken

These are my reviews of two more Freshly meals

BBQ Shredded Beef with Roasted Carrots & Cornbread

Rating 7/10

BBQ beef (or pork or chicken) is all about the sauce. This one was fairly good, though not among our favorites. It was sweet and tangy, probably more of the latter than we like. My husband, all in all, liked it more than I did. I found it just too sweet. Like most of the sauces we’ve encountered in Freshly meals, this one was too runny as well.

The cornbread was fairly good as well. It was probably less sweet than I like it, but it was just right for my husband.

Now, personally I don’t think this was any tastier than other refrigerated BBQ meat meals offered at the supermarket. But if you’re already subscribing to Freshly, it’s not a bad meal to include in your order.

This meal has 560 calories, and 30 grams of fat, half of which is saturated. It has 51 grams of carbs, including 19 grams of sugar and 760 mg of sodium (1/3 of your daily allotment). I wouldn’t say it’s exactly healthy – but I chose it.

Rustic Chicken with Mashed Potatoes & Veggies

Rating 7/10

My daughter and I split this meal. She got the chicken, and I got the mashed potatoes and mushroom mix that was probably meant to be eaten with the chicken.

She was happy enough with the chicken. I tasted it and found it dry, but that’s what I would expect from a microwaved chicken breast. It would have been far tastier if it was a thigh. The mashed potatoes, OTOH, were delicious. The mushroom mixture was tasty as well, it had a bacony/smoky flavor and I’m sure it’d have gone great with the chicken.

This meal has 470 calories, and 24 grams of fat, 9g of which are saturated. It has 31g of carbs, including 5g of sugar and 700 mg of sodium (almost 1/3 of your daily allotment).

The ingredients in this meal you wouldn’t use if making it yourself include natural shiitake flavor.

I paid a little under $7 for each of these meals, with a special offer.


Meal Kit Hack: Plated’s Chicken Marsala/Madeira with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes + Recipe

Rating: 8/10

I had no reason whatsoever to make this meal kit hack other than the fact that I’m enjoying hacking meal kit recipes and blogging about it. Hey, we all have our weird hobbies.

I did, mind you, need to use the rest of the skinless/boneless chicken thighs my husband got me by mistake a few days ago (the first half I used to make this meal hack) and I love Chicken Marsala, but I could have gone with my usual recipe – which is absolutely delicious. Granted, Plated’s recipe for Chicken Marsala is almost exactly like my own (this one doesn’t use shallots, though) – which is probably why this recipe was absolutely delicious as well.

The recipe for the chicken, that is. I did not enjoy the fingerling potatoes at all. The Dijon taste was too weird. Maybe I put too much, I had to guess how much were in the “packets” and “containers” that went with the kits, but more likely it’s just not a good combination.

I did make a couple of changes to the chicken recipe, the main one was that I used Madeira instead of Marsala. I usually keep Marsala around, but apparently I had actually run out of it the last time I used it. Madeira has very similar notes to Marsala, and I figured it would produce similar results. It did! If anything, the Madeira was better than the Marsala (or maybe, this is just a better recipe than mine).

I ended up spending almost the same amount to make this dish than I would have spent buying the kit – $18.3 for me vs $24, if bought as a subscription, or $21.4, if bought at my local Safeway. As usual, I didn’t have to spend money in some ingredients that I already had at home, but had to buy larger quantities than needed of other ingredients. I think

Plated IngredientsMy IngredientsCost
9 oz cremini mushrooms8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms$3
8 oz fingerling potatoes20 oz fingerling potatoes
(used less)
$3
1/8 oz parsley1 Tbsp parsleyhome garden
1/8 oz rosemary2 tsp rosemaryhome garden
1 lemon1 lemon$1.10
2 boneless chicken breasts5 boneless chicken thighs$5.50
2 packets butter2 Tbsp butterpantry
1 container chicken stock1/2 tsp chicken stock concentratepantry
1 packets Dijon mustard2 Tbsp Dijon mustardpantry
1/4 cup flourflourpantry
1/2 cup Marsala1 cup Madeirapantry
2 Tbsp heavy cream1 qt heavy cream
(used less)
$5.70

My local Safeway carries this kit often, and I would consider buying it. My big hesitation is that it comes with chicken breasts, when I really prefer thighs so much more.

Chicken Madeira

  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup Madeira
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Cover each chicken thigh with plastic wrap and then pound until thin. Place flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste. Flour the chicken thighs and leave aside.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until golden, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Using a slotted spoon remove mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Add olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Carefully transfer the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook until done, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.

Add the Madeira, chicken broth and reserved mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream, parsley and lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 minutes. Return chicken to the the skillet and cook until the chicken is warmed through, about 5 minutes.


Review: Freshly’s Spring Garden Veggie Bowl and Steak Peppercorn

Despite all the different companies offering meal kits out there, I wasn’t able to find any that had enough offerings in their menu that appealed to me this week. I thus decided to finally give Freshly a try.

Unlike other companies, Freshly doesn’t send out meal kits – rather, they sell refrigerated meals – basically an upgraded version of TV dinners. They have 30 varieties, each with one serving, but the menu doesn’t seem to change weekly.

Last night, only my vegan daughter and myself were hungry enough for dinner, so we tried two of the kits. They were pretty good.

Garden Veggie Bowl

Rating 7/10

This, as far as I can see, is the only semi-vegan option offered by Freshly. It does contain honey, which my daughter wants to start avoiding – a fact she didn’t share with me until after I made this order. In any case, she ate it and she enjoyed it. Indeed, this was one of her favorite meal kit meals.

The meal is basically a quinoa bowl with veggies: peas, sweet potatoes, radishes and cauliflower. She didn’t like the radishes, though, and there was only one piece of cauliflower. It has a vinaigrette dressing made of oil, vinegar, orange and lemon juice, honey and spices. This was a pretty filling meal and she didn’t finish it. It was a rather substantial meal as well – clocking at 580 calories and 34 grams of fat, but it had quite a lot of fiber and protein as well. She’d have it again, if I didn’t let her know it had honey in it. In all, she’d prefer to make her own bowl and add more cauliflower.

Heating the meal required microwaving for 2 minutes and then resting for another 2.

Steak Peppercorn

Rating 7/10

This is the only steak meal that Freshly offers. It’s not too surprising as steak can both be expensive and it’s hard to keep its quality through pre-cooking and microwaving. Freshly did a fairly good job in this case, though it definitely didn’t taste or had the consistency of a freshly made steak. The flavor was a little off, but I tend to be a purist about my steaks and usually prefer them unadorned by sauces or spices.

The steak was sent cooked medium rare, though I’m sure you can microwave it for an extra minute if you want it more cooked. It had enough juice to bleed into the plate.

The mashed potatoes were pretty tasty as well, sinfully so. They were too thin for my taste. They might have been gummy if not that thin, but the flavor was excellent.

I don’t like green beans, so I served these to my husband who was not hungry enough for a meal of his own, but was happy to get “something” for dinner. He thought they were OK. I wasn’t particularly hungry myself, so I was satisfied with just the meat and potatoes. In all, I think this meal is sized pretty correctly.

It took 3 1/2 minutes to heat up this meal in the microwave, and 2 more to rest.

I was surprised that this meal had both less calories and fat than the vegan one (480 calories & 27 grams of fat), though, of course, it has much more saturated fat (12 g vs 3g).

In all, this is a meal I’d have again though I wouldn’t feel compelled to.

I paid a little under $7 for each of these meals, with a special offer. They normally cost $10 each. I think at $10, they are probably overpriced. You can probably get something tastier for lunch from a restaurant for about that much. At $7, they heat the right balance between what a refrigerated meal would cost at the supermarket (and none of the ones I’ve had, have been that good) and what takeout costs.


Review: Margherita Italian-Style Meat Trio Panini

I found this frozen sandwich at Grocery Outlet for $2 and decided to give it a try. It was actually pretty tasty, though a little too heavy on the meats, which made it a bit salty for my taste. I microwaved it, so the panini was soft, but it was a pleasant doughy-chewy consistency. It’s not a huge bite, but it’s good for an easy snack.


Meal Kit Hack: EveryPlate Garlic-Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Root Veggies

Rating 7/10

I was planning to make a chicken stew tonight, but my husband bought skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead of the chicken parts I’d asked him to get. So I was left with trying to figure out what to make for dinner with the ingredients I had at hand. I could have easily replicated a meal I’d made before, but I saw it as an opportunity to try something new. I looked through different meal kit company sites, but the only one that had a simple recipe I could make with the stuff I had at home was EveryPlate. Perhaps I should have started with them.

This recipe for Garlic-Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Root Veggies was uncomplicated, but I thought pretty good. My daughter, who didn’t want the rosemary-garlic topping found the chicken flavorless, but that’s to be expected. The rosemary-garlic topping was good, if not gourmet quality. I’m not sure I’d make this particular dish again, however.

I used chicken thighs rather than the chicken breasts that the kit would have used, both because that’s what I had at home and because I much prefer them. I didn’t have a carrot, a sweet potato or Yukon gold potatoes, so I substituted with the two large russet potatoes I had at home.

I made this meal for 3 people. EveryPlate does not have kits that feed three, but their kit for 2 would have cost $13 (including shipping). A kit for 3, if it existed, would have cost $18. I spent ~$7.50 making it for the three of us. Had I used a carrot and sweet potatoes, it might have cost a couple of dollars more. While I didn’t buy any ingredients to make this meal, I had bought some recently enough to qualify as not being in my pantry just waiting to be used.

EveryPlate IngredientsMy IngredientsCost
2 skinless boneless chicken breast fillets6 skinless boneless chicken thigh fillets$5.50
1 carrotommitted
2 sweet potatoesommitted
5 Yukon gold potatoes2 Russet potatoes$1
rosemaryrosemaryhomegrown
1 red onion1 red onion$1
2 garlic cloves4 garlic clovespantry
1 “unit” chicken stock concentrate1/2 tsp chicken stock concentratepantry


Review: Blue Apron’s Bánh Mì-Style Beef Burgers with Sesame-Roasted Broccoli

Rating 7/10

In general, I like bánh mì sandwiches – they are tasty, they have a little kick (actually a lot of kick, so I am careful to take out any peppers and daikon I find in them) and they are very cheap. However, they also usually have too much bread, too many vegetables and too little meat. So I was looking forward to making this Blue Apron kit for bánh mì-style beef burgers on my own. Alas, I didn’t actually look at the recipe so I didn’t realize the only vegetables they were including were carrots and radishes. Not too big of a deal, but it sort of detracts from the whole “bánh mì” experience.

The protein was ground beef mixed with curry and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was surprisingly tasty. I tend to add curry powder to pretty much anything, but I hadn’t really tried it in a burger. I will again. But what really made the burger – for me – was the bread. The demi baguette was toasted with olive oil and some salt and it just went wonderfully with the meat. I wasn’t impressed with the carrots, so I mostly pushed them up. The meal kit came with mayo and sambal oelek that you are supposed to mix together and then spread on the bread. I added too much sambla oelek, however, and it was too spicy for me so I used plain mayo on my sandwich – it was great. I used the spicy mayo on my husband’s sandwich, and while he didn’t find it spicy, he also didn’t find it particularly tasty. If you make it, skip the sambal. In any case, I really liked my sandwich and my husband liked his less.

He liked the broccoli, however, which was mixed with sesame oil and roasted. My daughter didn’t – so it’s hit and miss.

I got all the ingredients needed for the recipe, and they were all pretty fresh – though the carrots were starting to get wobbly. Still, I got my box on Monday and cooked this on Friday, so I really can’t complain.

My favorite part of the meal was the bread, which is made by Tribeca Oven in New Jersey. The demi-baguette was wider than most, the crust was softer and the center denser. I’m going to have to try to find something similar around here.

I appreciated that the kit included sugar. While I keep that at home, I know a lot of people who don’t.

I paid $12.50, or $6.25 per serving, for this kit with a sign-in promo. It was worth this but not the $20 regular price, as you can get a real bánh mì for less.


Review: Fontina-Smothered Chicken with Zucchini & Mashed Potatoes

Rating 6/10

This Blue Apron kit for Fontina-Smothered Chicken with Zucchini & Mashed Potatoes was an OK meal, but not at all exciting. Sure, I chose it specifically to eat with my picky younger daughter, so I bear the whole blame for it.

I’ve never had chicken with cheese before, and I was pleasantly surprised. Indeed, I made fish with a cream sauce and cheese a few days ago and that worked too! Cheese seems more flexible than I thought! The piquante peppers were a good choice.

The whole meal was very simple to put together. The chicken sprinkled with Italian seasoning and simply sauteed and then covered with cheese and the peppers for the last couple of minutes. I liked the flavor the seasoning gave the chicken. I did make a mistake and used the chicken breast for my last recipe and the chicken thighs for this one (I had assumed both packages had chicken breasts), but I’m not sure that made a difference. I did cook them for a shorter time as they were far thinner than the breast.

The zucchini was simply sauteed with garlic. I overcooked it some as I was dealing with the mashed potatoes and a stew I was making for my other daughter at the same time, but my daughter ate them. The mashed potatoes were pretty plain, but these ones at least had creme fraiche – a great improvement over the ones in the last kit that only had olive oil. Indeed, I didn’t even add the olive oil to these ones as it wasn’t a good flavor.

The ingredients were all there and all fine. All I had to provide was salt, pepper and olive oil.

I paid $12.50, or $6.25 per serving, for this kit with a sign-in promo. It was worth this but probably not the $20 regular price.


Review: Blue Apron’s Crispy Chicken Schnitzel with Mashed Potatoes & Creamy Mustard-Dressed Kale

Rating 8/10

I got this meal kit for to make for Crispy Chicken Schnitzel with Mashed Potatoes & Creamy Mustard-Dressed Kale for my non-vegan daughter and me, but I ended up eating it mostly by myself: my daughter ended up with other plans. No matter, I saved the chicken breast for her for tomorrow and I’ll make her some fresh mashed potatoes with potatoes I had at home.

This is a meal that is more like disparate components than one full meal. The components all work with each other, don’t get me wrong, but you could substitute any of them for something else and the meal would still work. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

The chicken schnitzel itself was good – but it wasn’t really a schnitzel. The breast pieces were skinless and boneless but they had not been flattened – nor were there any instructions to flatten them. Moreover the cooking times given were for a thick piece of breast. The chicken was fine, but it would have likely been juicier and more enjoyable if it’d been flattened first. The flavor was OK, but not extraordinary given that there was no seasoning beyond salt on the breading. Commenters suggest adding onion and garlic powder to the flour, I’d also add dried oregano or fresh chopped parsley to the egg.

UPDATE: It turns out that the schnitzel part was my fault. Blue Apron had sent me boneless chicken thighs for this recipe, and the chicken breasts for another one. I didn’t look closely and just assumed both were chicken breasts and ended up using the wrong cut.

The apple slaw that accompanied the chicken was also good, but it didn’t really improve the chicken substantially. I also ended up with way too much slaw.

The mashed potatoes, which are simply mixed with olive oil and salt, were below average. The olive oil flavor was too strong. My vegan daughter didn’t like them. Personally, I think the recipe should have had you mix half the ghee with olive oil to fry the schnitzel, and use the rest of the ghee with the mashed potatoes. Commenters also suggest adding a couple of crushed garlic cloves to the potatoes.

The real star of the meal was the kale, however. It was dressed with a “creamy mustard dressing” which is just Dijon mustard and mayo, mixed with honey and salt. It was delicious – I don’t even like kale but I ate the whole thing (my daughter didn’t want to even try it, and I figured it’ll be soggy tomorrow). I’ll definitely try this dressing on other stuff (recipe below).

All the ingredients for this kit were there and they were fresh. I love that Blue Apron includes ghee for cooking rather than relying of you having butter at home (as HelloFresh does). And I also loved the container for the egg.

The only mild inconveniences is that it’s winter, and I don’t keep my house particularly warm, so the honey was crystalized by the time I went to use it. The ghee was also pretty hard. Don’t refrigerate either when you get them – at least in winter.

The meal was all in all satisfying – though I did eat all the kale by myself. It was also relatively quick and easy to prepare. And it’s also easy to recreate at home with your own ingredients.

I paid $12.50, or $6.25 per serving, for this kit with a sign-in promo. It was worth this but probably not the $20 regular price.

Creamy Mustard-Dressed Kale

  • 2 oz kale or fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • salt to taste

If using Kale, remove central stem from kale leaves, then cut into strips.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo, honey and mustard. Season. Add kale and mix well, using your hands to make sure all the leaves are coated.