hello fresh product review

Product Review – Hello, Fresh!

If there is one thing that this blog and its accompanying social media outlets have proven, it’s that I know how to develop and create some great recipes. I’m not trying to be self-congratulatory (HA!), but I’m just stating a fact. Still, with recipe development comes the inevitable stages of trial and error. As much as I don’t want to admit this, I have definitely bought too many products that I have wasted. If I buy too much hamburger meat, I’ll wrap it up and freeze it, thinking to myself, “I can thaw this in a month and make some meatballs or toss it into some chili!” Six months later, I’ll come across that frozen aluminum-foiled covered brick beneath my pint of Sea Salt Caramel Talenti, heave a heavy sigh, and pitch it into my trash bin. So many zucchinis and avocados have met their unfortunate end in my kitchen, though I can only hope that my composting has given them a second life someplace else. I don’t like to waste food, and I’m sure I’m currently preaching to the choir. I try as hard as I can to buy what I use and use all that I have. Still…I’m not always perfect.

Hello Fresh, I welcome you with opened arms.

Hello Fresh is fantastic because it’s fool-proof and efficient. I recently received three meals from them: Steak and Brussels Sprout Stir-Fry, Spicy Pork and Kale Soup with Udon Noodles, and Cauliflower Pancetta Mac and Cheese.

hello fresh product review

Post-election, without getting too preachy, virtually all of my friends were feeling rather down and out about the state of our country. With all of these boxes of food and my stomach, unfortunately, not big enough to ingest it all by myself, I thought, “Wouldn’t a little potluck meal boost our collective spirits a bit?”

As for the Spicy Pork & Kale Soup, I kept that for myself. However, I decided to break out the Steak and Brussels Sprout Stir-Fry and the Cauliflower Pancetta Mac and Cheese to share with the masses, complemented with an array of roasted vegetables and additional jasmine rice on the side. Also…mimosas. We had a LOT of mimosas. Ha! (Hey, it was Saturday afternoon. It’s all good.) And should I mention the vegan apple cider donuts and (non-vegan) chocolate donuts I ALSO made? I think it goes without saying that my calves were killin’ me the next day! Cooking for multiple hours while entertaining is strength and cardio. *phew*

hello fresh product review

I am a very concrete person, so I loved two things about these Hello Fresh boxes. One, the colorful and informative instructions left little to question. I appreciate transparency and clarity in recipes. Hell, I’ve looked back at old recipes of mine on this blog and have edited them after thinking, “…wait? Does that make sense?”

hello fresh product review

Two, the ingredient portions were exact, so no ingredient was wasted. It was all down to a T! In the mac and cheese box, I literally got one tablespoon of flour to make the roux with! I appreciated exact vegetable and meat portions, especially. Nothing was wasted, which made me feel good.

hello fresh product review

As for the taste? Superb! Well-developed recipes with exact ingredients and precise directions beget a perfectly seasoned dish. If you follow what’s written, you’re guaranteed to consume a delicious meal!

hello fresh product review

My wonderful yet voracious friends ate all of the mac and cheese before I could photograph it, and I can’t even be mad at them. Ha! It was collectively inhaled! As for the stir-fry, everyone was very pleased, as well. The meat was tender, the vegetables obtained a nice smoky char, and it wasn’t overwhelmingly salty, even with the addition of soy sauce.

While I am all about making my own meals about 99.99% of the time, I don’t think I’d necessarily discount using Hello Fresh again in the future! Some of the meals they put together are unique and have ingredients that I can’t easily get at my well-stocked C-Town. (i.e.: My C-Town does not have a single udon noodle in sight. Ha!) As I type this, I’m perusing their menu for next week. I’m seeing gems like Pork Larb over Jade Rice and Tuscan Ribollita. Wow! Rather than search high and low for a single Thai chili pepper or waste money on an entire bottle of sesame oil that I’d rarely use, I could get it all, perfectly portioned, in one box.

Ahhhhh, wonderful simplicity! It doesn’t get much better than that.

hello fresh product review

A smattering of my friends digging into the Hello Fresh potluck, with mimosas and donut ingredients in the foreground, and one friend practicing her yoga n the background. It’s always good to stay centered prior to a big meal!

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DISCLOSURE: The fine folks at Hello Fresh provided me with complimentary meal boxes to cook and review. I’d like to thank them for their generosity and making the stomachs of quite a few people very full and happy. All opinions shared in this post are my own.

Kohlrabi Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce

My first introduction to kohlrabi was roughly three years ago in the kitchen of my oldest friend’s childhood home. Growing up on a well-known dairy farm in Northwestern Connecticut, I always knew I’d eat well when hanging out with the Freunds. This visit was no exception. While hanging out with my friend Amanda, her younger sister Rachel prepped vegetables and fruits to pass through their new juicer. On the other side of the juicer, other plant-based appitizers were prepped. Of course, with Freund’s Farm being a proud “Farm Family” associated with Cabot, you can guess what kind of cheese we had on the table. I saw Amanda and Rachel eating slices of cheddar with slices of kohlrabi, akin to cheese and crackers. I was certainly curious, so I gave it a shot. I fell in love! The juicy crunch and relatively bland flavor of the kolhrabi paired perfectly with the sharp cheddar.

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Yes, this following photo is from three years ago, when Seek Satiation was merely a Twitter feed (which still exists, of course). I used to post occasional food porn on there when I felt I was spamming my friends’ Facebook feeds with too much deliciousness. Please note the artsy use of a jar top and the lack of focus on the actual cheese and kohlrabi:

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Admittedly, I kind of forgot about kolhrabi until this summer, and I now can’t seem to escape it! One, it’s always at my local greenmarket in Inwood. Two, I am in love with the way that Ali from Insprialized has turned another vegetable into yet another type of pasta. Her recipe for Creamy Corn Kohlrabi Pasta, which is delicious by the way, was definitely the inspiration for how to cook these noodles; admittedly, her version is much healthier than what I’m about to offer. 😉

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I still remember how well the cheddar melded with the vegetable, so I thought that making a “mac and cheese”, of sorts, would really work well.

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Lo and behold, it definitely did! (Well, if I can offer my own humble opinion, that is…)

Kohlrabi Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce
(Inspired by Inspiralized’s Recipe for Creamy Corn Kohlrabi Pasta)
(Makes 2 – 3 servings)

Ingredients:

– 2 medium kolhrabi or 1 large kohlrabi, peeled
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1/3 cup milk
– 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese or 3 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese with 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
– Salt & pepper, to taste
– A few generous shakes of garlic powder (optional)
– A few sprigs of parsley, washed and minced (optional, for garnish)

Before We Get Started…

– A spiralizer is required for this recipe to create the kohlrabi pasta.

– Though so many meals make good leftovers, this is a dish best consumed immediately. It doesn’t save well once the cheese sauce is added. Conversely, if you have leftover kohlrabi noodles, those save well in a plastic bag for about 3 – 4 days.

– It is fine if you use a more mild cheddar for this recipe, but the sharp cheddar really makes the flavor pop against the more cruciferous taste of the kohlrabi.

Directions:

1.) Set your spiralizer up with Blade C, or the blade with the thinnest output (for your average sprializer, this blade has smallest triangular openings). Spiralize kolhrabi(s). Trim / cut noodles.

2.) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add kohlrabi and cook for approximately 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until preferred doneness. Add salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.

3.) Place saucepan over medium heat; add butter and slowly melt. Once melted, add flour. Whisk for approximately 2 – 3 minutes to create a roux; once flour and butter are combined, add milk and whisk. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Once bubbles begin to break the surface, add cheese and stir quickly to incorporate. Remove cheese sauce from heat. Add garlic powder, if desired.

4.) Pour cheese sauce over kohlrabi and toss until coated. Top with parsley, if desired. Divide and serve immediately.

Classic Mac & Cheese

There is little in this world that I find more comforting than a hot bowl of macaroni and cheese. Long gone are the days of neon-yellow Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Spirals, for I no longer have the “Blue Box Blues“. As much I love a box of Annie’s in a pinch, all of these boxed mac and cheeses are loaded with sodium, regardless. (How I’d come home from school in my teenage years and down an entire box without exploding is still beyond me…) Of course, like many, I love to experiment with different cheeses, noodles, vegetables, and methods when it comes to mac and cheese creation. Still, in my opinion, it’s the simplest method that works the best for me. In just an extra five minutes compared to ripping open a box of dried noodles and questionable powder in a packet, you can make a perfectly satisfying bowl of mac and cheese with the full knowledge of what ingredients you’ve put into it.

mac and cheese

Slate counter top and old metal measuring cups. Instagram ready! 

Classic Mac & Cheese
(Serves Two if you’re generous, Serves One if you’re selfish)

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried pasta of choice (I prefer a whole-wheat elbow or rotini pasta)
– 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
– 2 tablespoons salted butter
– 1/3 cup milk
– 4 ounces shredded cheese (I prefer 3 ounces of sharp cheddar with an ounce of Colby Jack; feel free to switch it up!)
-A few generous shakes of garlic powder (optional)

Before We Get Started…

This recipe involves making a roux, since you’ll essentially be making a Béchamel sauce. Some rouxs can be made darker than others, but we’re making a simple white roux in this case. Make it with a whisk, if possible, but I find it just as good to use a fork to mix a roux.

…and if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about when I say “roux”, this is a pretty good introduction.

Directions:

1.) Fill saucepan with water and bring to boil; cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain when finished, rinse, and set aside.

2.) Place additional saucepan over medium heat; add butter and slowly melt. Once melted, add flour. Whisk for approximately 2 – 3 minutes to create a roux ; once flour and butter are combined, add milk and whisk. Bring mixture to a slow boil. Once bubbles begin to break the surface, add cheese and stir quickly to form cheese sauce. Remove from heat. Add garlic powder, if desired. Add pasta and stir.

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My future, and I’m okay with this.