Friday, May 22, 2015

Home Chef (05-15-15)

Home Chef's mission is to make cooking fresh food at home as easy as possible.  Their chefs shop for you and plan your meals, allowing you to choose from a new menu every week.   They offer a meal delivery service that includes all of the fresh ingredients and instructions needed to cook restaurant quality meals for 2, 4 or 6 people in the comfort of your own kitchen.   They eliminate recipe and food hunting by sending you a flavor-packed kit along with easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, turning you into a top chef.

My husband and I love to cook our own homemade meals throughout the week, usually repeats... chili, spaghetti, soups, grilled meats and veggies.  But this enables us to take it a step further and make delicious dinners that we wouldn't think to just make on the fly.  With Home Chef, you can incorporate gourmet meals into your diet with minimal effort.

I selected three meals from seven or eight that they offered to me, and Home Chef sent me the recipes and all of the ingredients... vacuum-sealed meats, fresh veggies and herbs, and anything else I should need.

The first meal I chose to create was the Shrimp Maki Sushi Roll with Wasabi, Soy Sauce and Sriracha, for two reasons... one, I didn't think the shrimp would last the longest in the fridge even with the vacuum-sealing.  Two... OHMIGOSH!  How much fun would it be to make my own sushi!!!

I started prepping the meal by THINLY slicing the cucumbers lengthwise into quarter-inch cubed strips.  The cream cheese was a little too sticky so I put it in the freezer to firm up.  I cut the shrimp in half lengthwise.  Then I mixed the wasabi for dipping.  I then cooked the rice and folded in rice vinegar, lying it on some aluminum foil to cool.  I put the shrimp into the pot to cook for two to three minutes and set to finally cutting the cream cheese.  UNFORTUNATELY... during that time I nearly forgot about my shrimp.  So they may have cooked a tad too long, but they were fine.  A litter firm, but okay.

After everything cooled, I got my dish of water ready and started filling the nori wrappers with the rice.  That water was very important to keep the rice from sticking to my fingers.  Then I added cucumber, chives, cream cheese and shrimp, wetted the end of the nori paper, and CAREFULLY rolled the nori, trying not to break it, end to end.  They gave me extra papers in case some did break... BUT I NAILED IT!

And holy moly, this made a LOT of sushi.  There's only five rolls in the picture but I actually got six out of it, the last without shrimp because I ran out but still had plenty of everything else.  That's fine by me.  I like veggie sushi too.  I ate that MF'er like an apple!!!  Hahaha!

Of course, my sushi was not Sake Blue quality.  I won't be handed a set of exquisite sushi knives and a white chef's jacket anytime soon, but the husband and I found them quite lovely for being homemade.

I served them with the wasabi, soy sauce and sriracha they provided.  This was a great dish.  So much fun to create, and unbelievably... EDIBLE!

However, there was too much to eat.  Wish I'd known.  I would've invited some fellow sushi lovers for dinner.  BUT... who's going to complain about too much???

The second recipe I made was Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cranberries, Kale and Wild Rice.  This was a super easy recipe to create, but also a little precarious because you're dealing with pork.

I chopped up the kale and placed in a bowl with the thyme.  I minced the shallot and garlic and put them in a separate bowl.  FYI... through these food service boxes, I have developed a whole new appreciation for shallots.  I don't know if I even care about onions anymore. ;-p
Also, neither the husband or I like "fruit" included in our meat dishes, so I ate the cranberries as I prepared the dishes.  Ordinarily I follow the recipes despite our likes or dislikes, but this pushed us past our comfort level.

I started the rice cooking and it predicted forty minutes, but it took less than 25 minutes for the rice to cook perfectly.  With olive oil, I sautéed the shallots and garlic until opaque, then added the kale and thyme.  Once that cooked down, I added the goat cheese.  I butterflied the pork loin and pounded it.  I covered the pork with the kale-goat cheese mixture and rolled, securing with several wooden skewers.  I couldn't quite follow the instructions with the skewers.  Maybe because I didn't pound the meat thin enough, maybe because I had too much filling, but I did my best with what I had.  I cooked the pork for 25 minutes, but after checking, it needed five more.  Then I rested it for another five minutes before slicing.

This was a delightful dinner.  The pork was perfect.  The kale-goat cheese stuffing was beyond delicious.  The rice mixed really well with the protein.  I paired these dishes with a light mixed green salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing, and the husband and I both enjoyed our dinner thoroughly.

The last recipe I made was Summery Grilled Chicken with Herb Vegetable Succotash.  This was SO easy to make!

I cleaned and cut up all of the vegetables... zucchini, red bell pepper, ear of corn, cherry tomatoes, green beans, onion, and lima beans.  I also minced garlic and chopped some dill.  I was supposed to cut up some chives, but they were left out of my package.  Not to worry... there was a bonus.

I got the onions and garlic cooking in a pan with olive oil and let those get translucent.  In the meantime, I sprayed another pan with cooking spray, seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper, and cooked them five minutes on each side.  I added all of the other vegetables and dill to the onion/garlic mix and cooked for about twelve minutes... a little longer than the recipe called for but the zucchini, pepper and green beans were still a bit crisp, and everything else was cooked through.

BONUS: I was going through the ingredients for all of the recipes, and there was a package labeled "Italian Chicken Vesuvio."  Well, huh?  I checked with Home Chef and sure enough, I didn't order that.  Minus the protein, I had another full meal.  Home Chef was kind enough to let me keep those items and send me the recipe and I may make that, but hey, super cool for me!  I got extra stuff!

Home Chef usually runs $9.95 per meal for three meals for two people delivered weekly.  I got super lucky and only paid $29.70.  While this promotion may or may not still be available, they always have some great deal on your first box.

Home Chef's recipes were super fun to create.  I love the convenience of getting perfectly portioned, fresh ingredients delivered right to my door.  I will order from them again, and will be ravenously watching their site for recipes I can't resist.  I highly recommend Home Chef.  I love it and I know you will too.

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