Review: HelloFresh’ Moroccan Pork Sausage Tagine

Rating: 7/10

I selected this meal kit for Moroccan Pork Sausage Tagine with Dried Apricots and Chickpeas over Couscous because it seemed easy enough to veganize it for my vegan daughter, by simply substituting vegetable concentrate for the included chicken concentrate, and omitting both the sausage and the cream on her portion. It did mean having to cook the sausage in a different pan, but that wasn’t a big deal.

All in all both my husband and daughter enjoyed this dish, and it’s simple enough to put together. It was a good portion for both of them. If you make the original recipe, beware that the sausage is very salty, so be careful of how much salt you use in the other ingredients.

All ingredients were good quality, though the carrots were a bit wobbly.

I should point out that calling this dish “Moroccan” is almost insulting. Yes, the dish includes couscous and dried apricots – but that’s as far as the Moroccan influence goes. The vast majority of Moroccans are Muslim, and Muslims cannot eat pork. The sweet Italian pork sausage included in this recipe is not used in Morocco. Moroccans are famous for their merguez sausage, which is made of lamb or beef and has no pork products in it, but it is probably too expensive for HelloFresh to include.

I paid about $8.50 for this mealkit or about $4.25 per portion. Great deal!


Review: Hello Fresh’ Sirloin in a Mushroom Sauce + Recipe

Rating: 7/10

Hello Fresh seldom offers steak as part of their regular offerings. Instead, dishes with steak are usually considered “gourmet” and require an additional supplement. These are usually a very poor value, so I never ordered them. I did this time because when I added to my cart, HelloFresh showed that the 65% off discount that I had applied to the supplement as well. Alas, when I checked my account I realized that I was charged the full supplement price, which makes me feel defrauded. Still, it’s a lesson learned and in the future I just won’t order any meals that require paying a supplement.

This meal kit for Sirloin in a Mushroom Sauce with Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Carrots was pretty good, if a little too much work. It basically had 5 components that had to be cooked separately: the steak, the mashed potatoes, the carrots, the onions and the mushroom sauce. I think one (the onions) could have been skipped without losing much beyond cooking time.

But all ingredients were very tasty and, in particular, the mushroom sauce was phenomenal, which helped elevate both the meat and the mashed potatoes. I’ve had similar mushroom sauces before, but I liked how simple and quick this one was (recipe below).

All the ingredients were included and they were mostly fresh (the carrots were a little wobbly) and good quality. The steaks were very, very thick but at least they were around the same thickness.

I paid a little over $20 for this meal kit, including the supplement, or about $10 per person.

Mushroom sauce

I recommend you double the sauce

  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 4 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. beef demi-glace
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat in a pan, preferably one you used to cook steak. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until softened – 2 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the demi-glace and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in the mustard. Simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the remaining Tbsp. butter.


Review: Hello Fresh’ Mozzarella Stuffed Meatball Bake

Rating: 4/10

After being off meal kits all summer (both because I wasn’t cooking and because I didn’t get any good “come back” offers), I went back to HelloFresh after getting a “65% off your first box” deal. Apparently I had forgotten just how hard it was to find meals that I actually wanted to make, which is why I ended up selecting this kit for Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatball Bake
with Cavatappi and a Crispy Panko Topping
.

Truth be told, I love pasta baked with sauce and cheese, and I’m a pretty big fan of good meatballs as well. Still, this is the sort of dish I can easily make on my own and, as it turned out, much better.

There were lots of things wrong with this dish. First, baking the meatballs was a mistake, they were left dry and with a crusty shell. The recipe also called for too much salt. Second, the tomato sauce was pretty tasteless. No wonder, making a pasta sauce requires a long simmering town. This dish would have been much better with a commercial pasta sauce. Finally, the mozzarella cheese was pretty bland. The dish could really have used some Parmesan cheese instead of the bread crumbs that was included.

I paid ~$8.50 for this meal kit for two people with the discount.



Review: Gobble’s Pan-Roasted Chicken with Polenta Cakes & Roasted Broccoli

Rating 8/10

I was not excited when I chose this meal – pan fried chicken? -, but I couldn’t find a third meal that appealed more to my taste. Boy, was I surprised when this ended up being delicious!

The meal included 2 chicken breasts, mushrooms, grape tomatoes and broccoli crows, as well as prepared shallot confit, wine sauce, herbed butter and two premade polenta cakes. Preparation consisted of cutting the veggies, sauteing the chicken, adding the veggies and the confit and then putting all of that in the oven. Meanwhile, I heated the polenta cakes on a pan. After the chicken and veggies were done, I was supposed to transfer them to a plate, and then make a sauce on the pan with the wine sauce, some water and the herbed butter.

While none of this was complicated, it took me 30 minutes from beginning to end, not the promised 15. I am a slow cook, however.

The chicken did not actually cook through in the given time, but the vegetables were ready, so I finished cooking it on the pan I used for the polenta.

The results were pretty delicious. I loved the polenta cakes and the wine sauce, as well as the mushrooms and tomatoes together (I hate broccoli, so I left all of that for my daughter and took her mushrooms, as she doesn’t like them). The chicken was the worse part – as usual for chicken breasts, it was dry. I so prefer chicken thighs!

I also took a point off because this dish required both the stove and the oven. I really don’t see why it couldn’t be cooked stovetop and save the gas and time required to pre-heat the oven, as well as avoiding the heat in the summer month.

I got this kit for free due to credits and a welcome back promo code. Use this referral link to get a free kit for 2 with your first box.


Note: if you use my referral link I *may* get some credits in return, if I happen to be subscribed to the meal kit service at the exact moment you use the code – which is unlikely.



Review: Gobble’s Blackened Top Sirlon Steaks with Mashed Potatoes & Baby Carrots

Rating 7/10

This was a perfectly acceptable, but unexciting dish. Of course, I should know better than order any kit featuring top sirloin, a cut that is neither tender nor tasty. The blackening spice helped, but still, I wasn’t thrilled. A NY strip, tri-tip or ranch steak seasoned with just salt is better.

This kit, as too many of Gobble’s, required that you start cooking the steak and carrots on the stove and then transfer them to the oven. This, to me, is an unnecessary step and a waste of gas. So after slicing the carrots and seasoning the beef, I cooked both on my iron skillet on the stove. Once the beef was done, I removed it and added a couple of tablespoons of water to the carrots, covered it and cooked for a few more minutes, until the carrots were softish.

The mashed potatoes only required mixing with a pre-mix of poblano peppers & corn and then warming up. As my daughter doesn’t like poblano peppers and I don’t like corns and the two were mixed together, I just skipped that. I did add the cheddar cheese afterwards. I found the cheesy potatoes pretty tasty, but my daughter didn’t like them.

All in all, I wouldn’t order this kit again.

I got this kit for free due to credits and a welcome back promo code. Use this referral link to get a free kit for 2 with your first box.


Note: if you use my referral link I *may* get some credits in return, if I happen to be subscribed to the meal kit service at the exact moment you use the code – which is unlikely.




Review: Gobble’s Greek Pita Wrap with Grilled Vegetables & Hummus

Rating 8/10

Processed with RNI Films

This kit came with already made hummus, tzatziki, olive tapenade and za’atar spice, as well as a zucchini, a yellow squash, 2 roma tomatoes, a slice of red onion, a small bag of arugula, pita bread and pita chips. Preparation consisted of slicing the squashes, quartering the tomato, sauteing them for about 8 minutes and then assembling the pitas. You then serve it with a side of pita chips and hummus. So a super quick meal to put together.

I didn’t use the tzatziki or tapenade, omitted the onion and substituted the arugula for some spring mix I had to accommodate my daughters’ preferences. I also added some cubed tofu to add protein to the dish.

In all, she was very happy with the results. She found it a very tasty meal. She particularly loved the pita bread. The problem is that the kit came with only two pita breads – so one per person. That was not enough for the amount of filling there was.

This is also a pretty simple meal to put together on your own, though I wouldn’t know where to buy the spongy pita bread they sent.

I got this kit for free due to credits and a welcome back promo code. Use this referral link to get a free kit for 2 with your first box.


Note: if you use my referral link I *may* get some credits in return, if I happen to be subscribed to the meal kit service at the exact moment you use the code – which is unlikely.


Review’s Thistle’s Korean Style Veggie & Rice Noodles and Togarashi Tofu

Rating 6/10

This was the dinner offering for Wednesday, this week, but my daughter was out that night so she took it to school this for lunch today. It looked like a salad to her, so she thought it was a lunch. That meant, she ate it cold.

She thought it was fine, but she did not like one of the herbs – probably the cilantro. It reminded her of a deconstructed spring roll (her words). She said she’d eat it again, but wasn’t enthusiastic about her.

Because she took it to school without my knowing it, I wasn’t able to photograph it.


Review: Freshly’s Low County Bowl

Rating 6/10

I got this meal for my husband. It consists of shrimp and
andouille sausage  with green beans and corn – and a side of roasted potatoes. My husband found it overall tasty, but he thought the shrimp were tasteless and soggy (a problem with all of Freshly’s meals).

The meal had 450 calories, 16 g fat (2.5 saturated), 47 g of carbs & 6g sugar. It had 34 g of protein.

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


Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Argentine Beef Empanadas with Chimichurri and Monterey Jack

Rating 7/10

Plated's Argentine Beef Empanadas

I am Argentine and have made empanadas zillions of times, so I can tell you these are not traditional “Argentine beef empanadas.” Argentine empanadas don’t have jalapeño chili (I never even saw a jalapeño until I came to the US) or adobo seasoning. Most importantly, they are not eaten with chimichurri, a sauce which is reserved for asado. But my own empanada recipe has been bastardized enough that I can’t complain about lack of authenticity.

The fact is that these empanadas were pretty tasty. I did like the meat filling quite a bit and appreciated the light spiciness of the adobo filling. What I didn’t like were the shells. They were tough and thick and too crispy. My daughter and husband complained as well. The problem is that Plated sent empanada shells meant to be fried, not baked. I understand the confusion, nowhere on the package it says these are frying shells – though the one recipe it features, calls for the empanadas to be fried. And looking at the ingredients, which include sugar, confirms their intended use.

A second complaint is that Plated calls for the empanadas to be brushed with olive oil. I tried it on the one in the front, and it was a failure. Much better is brushing them with either milk or an eggwash and sprinkling sugar on them.

Finally, the chimichurri wasn’t really chimichurri. For one, it didn’t have oregano, an essential ingredient. But the real issue is that it didn’t go with the empanadas at all. Really, empanadas don’t need a dip or anything like that – they just need the right kind of shells.

On the plus side, while the meal kit was supposed to make 8 empanadas, there were enough ingredients to make 10, so it was enough for 3 of us.

I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, and I think it was well priced for that.


Meal Kit Review: Plated’s Persian Chicken with Carrots & Jeweled Rice

Rating 8/10

One of the things I like most about cooking from meal kits are the little things I learn that, despite cooking for the last 30 years of my life, I have not figured out on my own. Sometimes they are techniques, and sometimes they are simple recipes. This time, it was a bit of both. I have cooked rice before by sauteing an onion and then the raw rice before adding the water. But I was amazed at what adding just a stick of cinnamon does for rice. It really elevates it to another level. And simmering basmati rice for 10 minutes and then letting steam in its own heat for another 10, is a wonderful technique as well.

In all, this was another winning recipe by Plated. The chicken was good as were the carrots, and it all came well together. My picky 14-yo was happy.

I also loved how Plated sent me all the ingredients I needed, including the flour!

I paid a tad over $13 for this kit, with a welcome back promo, or about $7.65 per person,  which was quite fair for the quality of the food and the convenience.