A couple of weekends ago the Sous Chef and I were going through a bit of a culinary crisis.
We make a lot of chicken in this house. Usually we make chicken breast because it is a lean source of protein. I do not really eat a lot of red meat or pork, and a lot of the time I do not have time to get access to the best fresh sea food (and I refuse to settle when it comes to fish!) so we are stuck with chicken breast. A few times this summer we have ventured out and cooked chicken thighs – and the thighs did have a wonderful, rich flavor… but still, at the end of the day, it was still chicken.
But we were both sick of chicken. I was almost ready to give up cooking! I just couldn’t figure out what to do. I could not taste chicken again for a while, this I knew for sure. On the way home from work that Monday, I stopped by Whole Foods and bought ingredients to make turkey chili. It was a hit, and was definitely something we had not made in a long while. I love chili because you do not have to eat it right away. I was able to keep it on the stove top for an hour while the flavors came together to something wonderful, as I did other things and waited for the Sous Chef to come home from his day job. We had dinner and it was an easy clean up and we had leftovers for a couple of days – perfect for the work week. But you cannot eat turkey chili every day.
I still found myself at a loss. I had seen lots of advertisements and offers to try Plated. I finally bit the bullet and signed up. I would be getting my first delivery just the day after I signed up – and I was really looking forward to seeing how this new service went.
Our box was due to arrive on Tuesday, and that day I found myself really excited to get home and cook – which was a welcome change! I also felt like I had more time to do other things that I needed to do, since I did not have to search through all of my recipes to find what I wanted to cook and I did not have to budget time to get to the grocery store. I felt like I had at least an hour of bonus free time, a feeling I never have during the work week. I decided to make the most of this – and I went for a three mile run after work, instead of just getting in the car and driving home. I felt like this was a great use of my time, and if I can do something healthy and stress relieving while using the Plated service, it might be worth it.
When I got home I found all of the ingredients nicely put away in the refrigerator (by my mom who had been home when the Plated box arrived). The recipes were on the cutting board in the kitchen. I quickly reviewed both recipes and decided to go with the hanger steak and arugula salad with a tomato and goat cheese strata. Wow! I never have such options just walking in the door without doing any of the additional prep work. This was fantastic!
First, I got out the ingredients I needed for dinner:
I loved how nicely everything was packaged – and the most important thing that I loved right of the bat, the knowledge that I would not be wasting ANY FOOD! So many times in my house I will buy a BUNCH of cilantro, or parsley or another fresh herb when I need a grand total of three or four tablespoons. Sometimes I will need 1/3 of a cup. But often, so much of the herbs go to waste, even if I store them properly in the refrigerator (wrapping herbs in a paper towel will often keep them fresh for a longer amount of time). I hate throwing away food (garnishes, mostly) – but sometimes I do, especially when I am cooking for two.
When I opened the bag of herbs, I was taken and (for some reason) surprised by how wonderfully fresh and vibrant the basil and chives smelled. I was instantly reminded of how much I love chive. (Mental note – I must plant chive next year – I have had it in my garden in the past, and it has done wonderfully well – but this year I did not grow any and it has left quite the void in my culinary life.)
The basil was a little browned – but that was to be expected since basil bruises so easily. I tossed just a couple of leaves away, and replenished with the basil I had growing out in my backyard. I washed all of the herbs and arugula. I chopped the chive, and tasted as I went… they were delicious!
And then I got down to the nitty gritty … and the photos stopped for a bit.
This is the one thing I will say about Plated. You have to like to cook to use this service. This is not a thing where you open up your box, put one thing on the grill or pan and your dinner is done. There are steps, there are ingredients, and there is work to be done in the kitchen as you make your meal and after – the clean up can be a bit intense depending on ho many bowls, cutting boards, etc that you use in the process. Not to discourage you from trying Plated – but just be prepared to put in some work to get your amazing dinner! That being said, I loved every minute of it. While I was cooking, I also enjoyed knowing that I had spent the free time I gained from using Plated the best way possible – by exercising and enjoying myself.
I made the herb vinaigrette dressing, I put together the goat cheese and heavy cream mixture for the strata, and I cooked hanger steak!
This steak was a wonderful, lean cut of meat. I cooked it to about medium, there was still pink in the middle. It was wonderful.
The finished product was such a lovely dinner. My mom and I were both so pleased and we could not get over how much we loved it.
We also had a lot of leftovers! I packed a lunch for the next day with arugula, hanger steak, herb vinaigrette and some tomato. Mom had goat cheese and tomato strata for the next day. I was surprised (and thrilled) by how generous the portions were!
My lunch the next day was the talk of the office:
(Possibly because most people were surprised to see me eating steak – and loving it so much!)
The next night we had another Plated meal on the menu. BBQ chicken burgers with cabbage and baked zucchini “fries”. Mom and I cooked this meal together. It was another intense meal, but because there were two of us it did not seem as complex as the night before. We had a lot of fun making the meal…
Zucchini fries covered in egg and panko, ready for the oven!
I love the way the small ingredients come in their perfect packages… I re-use the containers with screw tops for dressings for my lunches now.
I hate touching raw meat, but I’ve been doing it for the sake of these meals – because they are wonderful and creative. I cooked our chicken burgers and used my meat thermometer to make sure they were at 165 degrees before I took them off the stove top.
The end result – another fun, creative and delicious meal that we enjoyed. It was a lot of fun cooking together, too!
If you have the budget for Plated and the willingness to cook and try new ideas, I would definitely recommend Plated. I loved the ease of not having to think about what was for dinner and not having to shop for ingredients. I thought the instructions that each meal came with were perfect and lovely – with the colored photographs that are included. Each meal was easy to make, but it does take time. From start to finish (not including eating of course!) I would say that you need about one hour of your day to do a Plated meal. It is a lot of fun and I recommend it! Find more about Plated at their website: https://www.plated.com/