Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hello Fresh, Week Two

So, last week (the 9th, 12th, and 14th, specifically), I wrote about the first week of working with Hello Fresh meals. They were... fine. We started with the roasted pork, had the chipotle-rubbed chicken salad, and finished with the caramelized-pineapple burgers.

Well, for week two, we had a new box of three meals. This time, when we opened the box, we had Honey Mustard Salmon (with Roasted Asparagus and Israeli Couscous Pilaf), Crispy Chicken Parmesan Salad (with Spinach and Roasted Potatoes), and Mole-Spiced Steak Tacos (with Poblano and Mexican Corn Salad).

Under this, you get the ice packs and seriously cold foods.

More fridge Tetris

I'm not sure why it happened this way - I mean, we did get to choose our three meals from six options each week - but the second week's meals just seemed to fit us better. Which may have added to how we felt about them as the week went on.

Let's see... First there was the Salmon (which had a sticker on it saying "Make this first"):

Yes, I read all of the instructions, first. And I was happy to see the small number of ingredients. (Though, again, I had to try to empty little tiny jars of things.)

Almost missed that tube of stock inside the box.
Sorry for the sideways mise-en-place.
There wasn't as much drizzling, since a lot of this just went into the oven on a baking sheet while the Israeli couscous (not pictured) boiled on the stove.

The asparagus looked a little rough by the time it came out of the oven.
 And, in about an hour, we had dinner:
The salmon was nice. The preparation was easy. The couscous was actually really good. The asparagus... well... it kind of tasted like it looked.

Meal #5 was the Crispy Chicken Parmesan Salad. Just read that title again. I'm thinking it had to be good, right? Though - with a "Total" time listed at 30 minutes, I knew I'd be working for at least 45.

I love recipes with short lists of steps.
Okay. This looked promising: Not a lot of ingredients, to go with the not-so-many steps.
The yellow thing in the middle of the board is not a rogue potato - it's a lemon.
Before we got to the next photo, there was a step that included smearing sour cream on the chicken, and then coating the breasts in panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Of course, the potatoes had also been tossed in a drizzle of olive oil... At least this time I read ahead and figured out how many pans I needed - and whether or not they could both be in the same oven.

Why is there a photo of a timer? Because, for the first time, I actually found myself with a little time to kill. Unfortunately (as you'll see in a moment) I wasn't able to do all of the dishes, because - you know - I was still using some of them.
Guess which plate goes to which person!
I got relatively close, I think.
Overall, this had good flavor, and we liked how it turned out. We had leftover potato and spinach salad, which I ate for lunch about two days later. It was actually a little better after the dressing had had time to set.

Our final Hello Fresh meal (because, remember, I had cancelled it in advance - we'll discuss that more later) was Mole-Spiced Steak Tacos. Christopher and I both like hot, spicy foods, so we thought this would be good. After all, there was a poblano pepper in the box, as well as mole spices and chili powder.

Again, I loved the number of ingredients:
And the fairly straighforward recipe steps:

Seriously, though - I want to know who times out the prep in these recipes. This was probably the first time I finished my prep in the 10 minutes they say each of these recipes is supposed to take.
There was some sauteing: 
 There was more sauteing:
And, although I don't have a photo of it, the beef also got sauteed (and, yes, each of those steps had its own drizzle of olive oil.)

When we were done, it looked pretty much like steak tacos: 
What you can't see in the picture, though, is that there was pretty much no spice in it. Yes, we used the pepper and the chili powder and everything they gave us, but there was just no real kick. When I served it, I brought out hot sauce for both of us, and we really needed it.

And thus ended week two of the Hello Fresh test.

I still hold that it's a great idea if you're looking for new recipe ideas, if you like to cook but don't have time to shop (or interest in shopping), or if you get it at a discount.

Unfortunately, I think that your experience with it could vary from week to week, based on the meals you get. I also think that the recipes could use some editorial work and some testing - and whoever keeps declaring that each thing only takes 10 minutes of prep ought to be taught how to read a stopwatch (honestly - every meal we made in two weeks said the prep should take 10 minutes, while most of them took at least twice that to prep).

Stay tuned for my opinion of Blue Apron, which we're currently in the middle of trying out. (Here's an early bit of news: aside from the fact that they both come to your door in a big cardboard box, the two services are not interchangeable.)

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