Plated Week 10

This week was good. We enjoyed both dishes and I can see making our own versions of them at a later date.

Peanut Noodles with Bok Choy and Miso-Glazed Eggplant
This was tasty. Shmoo generally avoids miso, but was really happy with how it worked in this dish. I don’t think I’ve had a peanut-ginger flavored sauce before and I quite liked it, and the miso glaze on the eggplant helped it out quite a bit. The noodle sent was linguine again, which we still find odd for asian flavored dishes but for the most part I guess noodles are noodles. The egg plant did it’s job. It was the meat substitue of the dish, and that was fine. I would have honestly preferred some extra-firm tofu instead. Cubed and put in the miso-mirin glaze to marinate, possible overnight, would have been divine. Chicken would have also been good, but we both feel like the point of the vegetarian dishes is to be tasty and vegetarian, so we both sided on tofu as an eggplant replacement for this one.

Seared Steak with Bell Pepper Panzanella
Shmoo loves bell peppers so his statement about this one was “It was really good, I loved the panzanella and steak is always great!” This was the first time for both of us eating panzanella, and my first time eating an arugala based salad. I’ve been avoiding it ever since having an escarole salad a few years back that was supposed to be super tasty (shmoo did like it) but was way too bitter for me. Everyone says escarole is “spicy” but all I got was a mouth full of bitter. And I digress! Arugala was good. We’d do this one again for sure. I do think I’d do this as one dish though, instead of a salad and a meat I’d just put the meat in the dish (likely chicken that had been marinated in something, and then cubed about the same size as the bread) and call it done. When there are enough diverse flavors and textures in a dish, I don’t see much of a point in having the protein be on the side unless you really want a particular one, like say, steak, shrimp, lobster, etc.

We should have another desserts post soon, as shmoo is in the kitchen right now catching up on those.

Plated Week 9

This week we liked both of the meals, and both of them had meat in them, which is a bit different for us because we try to get a vegetarian meal for at least one of the dishes. There were some great things about both dishes and some things we’d change.

Beef Lo Mein with Snow Peas and Scallions
The flavors in this one were awesome, and I feel I could easily make it again on my own when we are craving chinese takeout. The one miss for both of us was that the dish used linguini noodles instead of egg noodles of some sort. Last week we had a dish that had long life noodles in it. I think that if this dish had used that type of noodle, it would have been the best dish we’d gotten thus far. So yeah the noodles were a bit off, but the rest of it, YUM.

Green Chile Chicken Tacos with Mexican Street Corn
So, let’s start with the street corn here. Meh. It was basically cooked like the Italian Street Corn in an earlier dish we’d gotten so I think they just do a pan cooked corn with mayo and cheese and call it street corn of whatever nationality the main part of the dish is. I find this both sneaky/deceptive and pretty darned clever. For this one, they had subbed the cohita cheese with queso and it used less mayo than the italian version so it wasn’t as creamy, and shmoo noticed. I didn’t really much care either way. It was pan cooked corn with some stuff in it. It’s good in that hey, it’s corn and it’s been sorta toasted, but it’s not stellar.
The Green Chile Chicken Tacos part of the dish, that was damn good. We do tacos a lot, so any variations I can learn to add to our repertoire for taco eats is something I am down with. These were bright and tasty and had a slow heat build. By the time you got done, your mouth was on fire, but it wasn’t overwhelming right off the bat. We are totally going to make these on our own. The one issue we had with this dish was that they sent 5 corn tortillas instead of 6, but we had flour tortillas on hand, so I just used one of those. I personally really liked the flour tortilla better. This is no surprise, I generally prefer them over corn tortillas, but the corn tortillas were just falling apart while I was eating them so I found that annoying and the flour one stayed together. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d have a preference for this dish, the tacos were good as they were.

Plated week 8

Moo Shu Chicken with Pancakes
So, this dish had a lot of mushrooms, and I don’t like mushrooms, but expanding borders etcetera. For me it was OK. It wasn’t the worse mushroom dish I’d ever had, and as far as they go it was pretty darn good, but man, SO. MANY. MUSHROOMS. Shmoo liked it though. Thought it was really tasty.

Szechuan Lamb Noodles with Bok Choy
Delicious! I don’t think we’d change a thing. We definitely want to try to make this one on our own. If we can’t find ground lamb, we’ll probably try bison, but the lamb-ground beef mix was really perfect for this. The lamb added so much flavor but the ground beef kept it from being over-powering. This was tasty, and relatively quick and easy. I don’t think we’ve liked an entire dish this much since the first one we tried (vegetarian buritos back in plated week 1).

Plated Week 7

Week 7 was pretty good!

Steak Fajitas with Peppers, Onions, and Cholula Guacamole
We liked these. One of shmoo’s co-workers got the same thing this week, and said she didn’t like it as much as previous fajita meals because the marinade was done on the meat, onions and peppers all together and that kind off made it one note. We both agree with that. I think the peppers and onions cooked seperately having not been marinated would have been just as good if not better and added a bit more variety to the dish. The marinade was heavy on the lime juice, and it was my first time using one like that on steak. We really liked the result. Maybe all my steaks needs a citrus marinade going forward. The easy chunky guac was tasty as well. And since the title of this recipe specifically mentions the Cholula, I am going to specifically mention that we quite like Cholula so this was right up our alley. Would do/make/copy again.

Green Thai Curry with Eggplant, Brococoli, and Basil
We both loved this dish. Eggplant is not a favorite of either of us and it was tasty. I did find myself avoiding in the eggplant pieces towards the end of the meal thoough. But the dish was flavorful and super filling. There were a couple of hiccups, but we overcame. I got coconut milk everywhere when I went to dump it in the pot, so half of it was wasted, but luckily, I had a coconut milk in the cabinet so we used that and reduced the amount of water to make up for the extra difference. But, their coconut milk was “lite” and mine was just normal full fat. So I am betting it ended up a bit more flavorful than it would have been otherwise, but we did not mind. I’d love to do this again with a tiny bit of lemongrass or some lime/lemon juice since shmoo hates lemongrass, and use chicken instead of eggplant. Maybe add a little gochuchang or red pepper flake for a bit of heat. Another thing I liked about this dish was it taught me a quick basic way to do candied nuts. I am thinking of trying the same method on some walnuts with a bit of salt and cayenne.

Plated Weeks 5 & 6

(Edited to correct weeks because I dorked them!)

I had surgery (There will a post on this at some point later a few weeks from now, but not today!), and didn’t feel like sitting at the computer so, 2 weeks at one time again.

Week 5
Shmoo cooked the plated dishes for this week, with a little bit of input from me here and there in an advisory capacity.

Cheesy Beef Empanadas with Salsa Roja

So this was a mixed bag. The spinach salad, which we thought would be meh, was totally great. Super simple, but great. The Empanadas and Salsa Roja, not so much. Bland, but also Grease. Grease is the word, and we didn’t even have any Bee Gees in the house. The Salsa Roja itself, wasn’t a salsa, but it was red. The cheese and garlic in the empanadas, and the jalapenos in the salsa just didn’t come through in the end product. It was filling however, and it was good enough that we’ve already talked about how we’d retool this, and we intend to do so at a future point.
Changes we’d make:
-For the spinach salad, more black pepper, and maybe some thinly sliced red onion.
-For the empanadas, I want to use lime marinated skirt steak, and some cotija cheese, add some jalapeno, and maybe add some garlic powder instead of the crushed/diced garlic. The onion amount was sufficient.
-For the Salsa Roja, more tomatos or a can of diced tomatos, as there just wasn’t enough liquid at all. Double the amount of jalapeno, maybe up the onion and garlic a bit, or just use the garlic I am not using in the meat now for the salsa.
Seriously, that spinach salad…. YUM, and so unexpectedly good.

Cauliflower Bahn Mi Bowls with Srircha Mayo
We liked these too. Everything went well together and it was tasty. This was probably the best rice we’ve ever gotten from Plated. I could have done without the sweet potato in it and would have prefered chicken, but mostly we don’t have any problems with this dish at all.

Week 6
I cooked these!
https://www.plated.com/recipes/chicken-shawarma-with-tomato-cucumber-and-tahini
I liked this well enough, but shmoo didn’t really care for it. If I had put the plates together the way they are in the link above as opposed to the recipe card we were sent he probably would have liked it a lot better but as it was the pitas had too much stuff on them and it was too much tomato for him. Our dinner guest thought this was pretty good, and that the meat would be good that style in tacos. These weren’t bad, but they weren’t super great either, so I’d rank these somewhere in the middle of the pile we’ve tried so far. I could see using this method for a meat though to quick fake schwarma in the future.

Sesame Cauliflower Buns with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Srircha Mayo
So… I’mma tell you out the gate, I fucked this one up. I put the bun filling sauce on the brussels sprouts by accident and after that, there was no going back. So we put both sauces in the pan, and did the sprouts and filling as big pile of stuffing. This means we lost the contrast and texture differences in the dish so it was relatively one note, but it was still a good dinner and while I wasn’t super happy with it because I messed it up, shmoo and our guest both thought it was pretty tasty and it was very filling as well. We’ll be on the look out for this one so we can order it again and make it correctly.

Plated Desserts 1

So, because we only get 2 meals for 2 people per week, we come in at 6 bucks under the free shipping minimum. To fix that, we took the advice of shmoo’s co-worker and get one 1 dessert a week, which is 8 bucks, so for 2 bucks more a week, you also get a dessert. We aren’t really dessert people however, so I am not making those in as timely a fashion as we do the dinners. (Looking at the app however, it appears because we are getting desert for 2 instead of one, it’s 12 bucks, not 8.) They offer 2 choices of dessert each week, and it appears the choices run for 2 weeks at a time. So I plan to post on the dessert recipes we try as well, but not as often. Dessert posts will only be once or twice a month instead of weekly, and likely run a little behind when we actually get the kits.

So far we have made Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and No Churn Ice Cream with Chocolate Coconut Sauce.
We also have one Peanutbutter Marble Brownies kit in house already, but another is coming next week so I decided to wait and just make them both together.

The cookies were a bit meh. The texture was odd. They were OK, but I don’t think I would seek them out as something I was craving to eat. The dark chocolate, oats, and cranberries did all pair well together however, so maybe if the cookie consistancy were better we’d have liked them more.

The no-churn ice cream was a pain in the ass for me. Plated has you do things very manually, which I get, because who wants to require a mixer for a 2 person dessert or any pre-prepped meal you order? I would not get/make this again unless it were in a large enough quantity to use my stand mixer. Having to whisk the heavy cream until it was stiff peaked (very fast for 5 minutes or so) is really to much for my hands, wrist, elbows and arms. I’m in the middle of a tiny RA flare because I can’t take NSAIDs right now, and whipping the cream sucked. I called shmoo in about halfway through and had him finish up. I also didn’t like the little pop-tab on the condensed milk, as it made it take forever to get it out. I ended up using a can opener anyway at the end. I thought there was too much chocolate sauce and the toasted coconut would have been better put into the “ice-cream” to provide it more flavor than just sprinkled on top. It wasn’t bad, and I could see using the method again (with my stand mixer!!!) with some mixed berries or other fruit thrown in as a fruity not quite ice-cream treat and that would probably be quite delicious.

Plated Weeks 3 & 4

So…shmoocon means that things in our schedule got off-kilter and thus, you get 2 weeks combined this go round. There will also be a bonus plated dessert post after this one.

Week 3 dishes were Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps with Basil Rice, and Peanut Chicken Curry over sticky Rice.
Week 4 was Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Pamesan Potatoes, and Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Srircha.

So for week 3, both dishes were REALLY GOOD despite an issue or two, but if I were to make them again, I’d change a lot of things.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps
We both loved these, so very much. They were simple and fast and tasty! The only real issue with these is that the butter lettuce was gritty as hell even after a thorough cleaning and run through the salad spinner to dry off. So that sucked, but they did give you plenty of butter lettuce to use, and there was enough filling to use more than the 3 leaves each the recipe advised. The ground beef they sent was 80/20, but since we generally buy 92/8 I found it super greasy even after draining, but otherwise this was great.
I’d like to try making this on my own with the following changes:
-Skirt steak instead of ground beef or 92/8 ground beef, and if it’s the skirt steak, marinate it first in a teriyaki sauce or some Dale’s.
-Thai Basil instead of plain Basil, as I think that’s a better flavor for the dish, and I’d use more of it.
-I’d defintely add more hoisin and sriracha, but we like things pretty spicy. We are possibly of the camp that it’s not spicy enough until it hurts us.
-Add spring onions, and up the amount of cilantro a bit.

Peanut Chicken Curry over Sticky Rice
Again, we both loved this, and again we both agreed we’d change some things. I really don’t care for most of the types of rice Plated sends us. I am not a huge rice person, and generally the only rice I find acceptable is basmati, and it should be cooked with the Toast and Season method. (Rinsed well, cooked with a bit of oil/fat til it slightly changes color and smells nutty, then add the water and cook as normal, preferably with a chicken cube for some extra flavor. I don’t always do this I admit, sometimes we just use a rice cooker.) So I didn’t like the sticky rice. It was ok, but texture wise it was off for me, and I would have loved basmati in the dish so much more. And the instructions for cooking the chicken had you cooking it for 6 minuutes in a pan on it’s own, which did not make sense to me at all, because you were only cooking it through and not browning it. So I put it in the broth to cook instead, so that broth flavor would be in the chicken and chicken flavor would be in the broth. Also, 1 less pan. I thought the broth was a bit on the thin side, but shmoo was fine with it. It was a super tasty dish even with all my complaining.
I very much plan to make this on my own with the following changes:
-Use normal coconut milk instead of lite
-Use more red curry paste, more gochujang, more peanutbutter, and a smidge more ginger.
-Use Basmati instead of Sticky Rice

Week 4 was tasty as hell. Both dishes were good and I plan to do my own versions of both of them in the future.

Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Parmesan Potatoes
Neither of us can remember having ever eaten Chard before, and the way the potatoes were done is totally happening in my house again, but this time just cooked on a Silpat instead of parchment, so they don’t stick.
Changes for when I make it:
-Instead of demi-glace in the sauce, I want to use Worchester sauce or maybe a little Dale’s, and up the wine content by about half of what was sent.
-No sugar in the Chard, it was a small amount but I just didn’t think it was needed at all
-More red pepper flake
These are pretty small changes over all, and we really enjoyed the the whole dish. Other than the very first recipe we did (cheesy black bean burritos) this is probably the 2nd on the list for really liking it as is without changing things.

Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Sriracha
This was good and very filling. We both liked it, and while there were things we’d change, neither of us would be mad if someone made us eat it again as is. They sent basmati rice for this one, so I was a lot happier with life. I followed their instructions on the rice instead of doing it my way, but it was still the best rice we’ve had from Plated. The butternut squash came pre-cut sort of but you still had to cube it up, which was hard because the pieces sent to you were inconsistent. One large section of squash would have been better because then I could have cut it more uniformly. The carrot came shredded, so that was pretty handy. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked bok choy before, so that was both new and educational. I definately feel more confident about the idea of making fried rice on my own now. If you want a vegetarian fried rice dish, this is solid. Shmoo says he did not miss the meat, and he is generally the one who wants meat in all the foods, so that’s pretty high praise.
What I’d change:
-Add some meat. Diced chicken or pork, or shrimp perhaps. Barring that, I’d add some stock or meat flavor to the rice.
-Possibly remove the butternut squash. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it was a little sweet, and we both thought it was there to be the “meat” of the dish.
-More onion, garlic, soy, and Srircha. Maybe add a little hoisin, or some rice-wine pickled cucumber at the end for flavor/texture/temperature contrast. Possibly some mushrooms would be a good addition as well if you like that sort of thing.
-Maybe instead of the fried egg on top, scrambling it and frying it into the rice in the more traditional style.

So yeah, we really liked all 4 of these recipes quite a bit and we’d eat all of them again, even if it were as is. I do think the minor tweaks and changes would make them amazing dishes however, so I’ll be trying that out at some point in the future.

Plated Week 2

This week’s recipes were OK. There were parts of each dish that were hits and misses.

Roasted Shiitake Bibimap w/ Sweet Potato and Pickled Cucumbers
This was a big one, for me at least. I don’t like mushrooms. I never have. I am incredibly good at detecting mushrooms in food. I can tell if you used cream of mushroom soup in a recipe, with those tiny tiny tiny mushroom spec of yuck.
Choosing a dish that had mushrooms as a main ingredient was a BIG DEAL. I was prepared to eat them and even if I did not like them, because part of using trying plated is expanding our culinary borders, and while I am never going to try a fish dish from them, I figured I could give non-white-button-mushrooms a shot.
We liked the dish. The mushrooms and sweet potatoes in the hoisin-like sauce were pretty good, and the rice vinegar pickled cucumbers were great. My egg frying skills are decent as well so that was fine. The rice was a bit bland. And so very starchy. I had to rinse the rice after cooking as well due to the amount of starch gunking it up, which of course meant the beef boullion cube I put in the water with the rice was basically useless. I had some scallions on hand, so I diced those up and stuck them in some rice vinegar also and we put that in the rice to help it out. Everything but the spinach was pretty good. Shmoo found the spinach to be very blah, and I thought it was on the bland side and just ok, and I had added some sesame seeds to mine to help it out a bit. (There was more oil than I needed so I cooked it in Sesame oil provided as well instead of just olive oil so there wouuld be more flavor but it just wasn’t very flavorful. Bland bland bland.)

Steak au Poivre w/ Crispy Fingerling Potatoes
This was good. Sort of. Again, hits and misses. Shmoo really loved the way the potatos were done. I thought they were tasty as well, but my favorite was the sauce for the steak, even though the dijon mustard that was supposed to come with that recipe was missing. I just stuck some normal mustard in there and made do, but it did bring up an issue I’ll mention down below. The spinach was, again, super bland. I had hopes that it would be better and that maybe it was just what it was paired with on the first dish, but nope, it was still very meh.

So, the thing I have now experieced is an ingredient being left out. This can be problematic.

Even if you have the proper ingredients on hand (as I would have if they had left out a bibimbap ingredient) you don’t really know how much is the correct amount because the recipes don’t give you amounts. You have the ingredients from the dinner kit pre-measured, so if you are trying to replace one or duplicate a recipe, it’s basically your knowledge and guesstimate from when you did make it, or a random guess based on the instructions.

Additionally, you may not have the correct ingredient on hand. We did not have dijon mustard. We have spicy tabasco mustard, and I have mustard I can mix up with mustard powder. Neither of which are dijon. No, I cannot pardon you because I do not have any Gray Poupon, etc. That being said, we did just fine.

Sunday night’s dinner was taking the good parts of the plated dishes this week that we liked and doing them our own way. Or my own way since I am the cook! We did beef tips in a sauce that was a riff off of the poivre sauce, and I did some non-fingerling potatos with that same method. I also pickled some cucumber in rice vinegar for our salad. Overall, it was a great dinner, and I liked trying the different takes on food we’d normally cook.

Plated, & Plated Week 1

So, shmoo and I have started doing Plated as of last week. We are also in a group imessage chat that’s basically being treated like an IRC conversation amongst the group, and it’s been going on for about a year now.

When we mentioned doing Plated in that chat, there were a lot of questions there, and generally everyone that hears about it has questions and hey, so did we, so I decided it would be good blog post fodder since I’m not really a speedy knitter/spinner/crafter person as of late.

First, why we chose Plated over other services out there:

    1. We liked their plan options better. You can sub 2 to 5 meals a week. The other contender only had 3 as the lowest option. We are doing 2 (except for the first week, which was 3) meals a week. You can also pause your subscription with no penalties, which I don’t believe you can with some of the others. This is a great thing for when you are going out off town or whatever, or have holidays or people coming into town, etc.

    2. We knew someone using the service already who liked it. One of shmoo’s co-workers uses the service and has for a while. She gave us the starter coupon so we could try it at no cost.

    3. I have food allergies, and they (Plated, not my allergies) list each of the ingredients clearly for their meals, and the environments where the food is produced/gathered/packed?? so that if I have food concerns I can address them ahead of time or just choose something else.

    4. We liked their different recipe options the most out of the services we looked at.

Other things of note, but not necessarily factors on trying a dinner service, just things we’ve noted this first week:

    1. I already know how to cook. This is not a problem for our household. But I get tired of trying to think of new things and we like ethnic foods quite a bit.
    There’s something very pleasing about the idea getting to try a new recipe or technique I haven’t done before or cook something in a new way without having to research it and gather all the little bits and bobs together to make it and it keeps me from being bored or burnt out cooking dinner every night.

    2. Portion control. Part of the problem with cooking at home is portion sizes. I don’t weigh things when I cook, and I don’t want to. And generally I cook a large enough amount to last a night or two, and maybe some lunches. But that means we don’t always eat an appropriate amount. For me, this is a way to learn more appropriate portion sizes by working with them regulary and seeing the outcome of those smaller portions, i.e. we aren’t hungry, there aren’t tons of leftovers to deal with, we aren’t eating more than we should.

    3. The App is quite nice and possibly better than the website for choosing what you want for the week.

Now the part you’re probably more interested in. What we ate and what we thought about it.

Week 1 Recipes:

Cheesy Black Bean Burritos w/ Pico & Guac

Thoughts:
This was good, I would make it again with a few minor tweaks. We were suprised about how much we liked it, especially since it was meatless. While I don’t mind not having meat in a meal, shmoo totally does, but it wasn’t an issue for this one. I did have an issue with the instructions on the amount of diced red onion. It has you dice the onion and “divide” but doesn’t give you any guidance on how it should be divided. Halvsies? Quarters? Should there be some left over when it’s all over? What? It was’t like it was a huge onion or anything, and my dice wasn’t large, so a little confused about them then saying how many tablespoons to use of the divided onion in each side dish didn’t really address that I had divided the onion, nor use all the onion. I just threw it all in the dishes one way or another and ignored the tablespoon directions, and it was fine, but it irked me. We did throw a handful of corn chips each onto our plates to eat all the guac and pico that went with the burrito, because there was no way we were just going to eat that straight.

Seared Steak w/ Italian Street Corn & Basil Pistou

Thoughts:
This was good. I would make it again, likely with several tweaks. I thought the portions were going to be an issue, but they weren’t. I thought there wasn’t enough red wine vinegar for the Pistou, but there was. I thought the recipe used too much olive oil for no good reason. It had you cook the steaks, then remove them and wipe the pan. Why woud you wipe all the steak goodness from the pan? That’s just wrong. So I didn’t. But that meant I didn’t need as much olive oil as it called for to cook the corn either. And there was mayonaise for the street corn dish. And it was this fancy stuff. Ugh. No. It did not please me to use it, but I did. I think it would have been better using my standard plain-doesn’t-really-have-a-flavor mayonaise instead. To be fair, my family has used Duke’s mayonaise for 4 generations now, so it’s pretty ingrained, and over all al small thing.

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry

Thoughts:
This was OK. This was the first dish we didn’t eat all of. I could see it being really good with a few minor changes however, and will likely try to make it again with those changes. I think adding some chicken, more peanutbutter for thicker sauce, subbing regular coconut milk for the lite stuff, and chicken stock for the veggie stock would be a big improvement. I’d like to see a little more heat spice-wise as well. I think adding in some lentils or chick peas would be nice, and I’d like to add some cumin (not ground) to the rice to go with that cilantro and give it a more peppery scent over all. It wasn’t a bad dish, and we liked the flavors in it, I just think it could come together and be an amazing yet pretty easy dish to create with these minor tweaks.

Overall thoughts on first week:
We liked it enough to keep doing it.
These dishes use more fresh herbs that I am used to and I think I like it.
The only ingredients needed/not provided so far have been salt, pepper, and olive oil. I approve of this, though I did put steak seasoning on the steak and things like that. I have a cabinet full of really nice seasonings and spices and I am going to use them when appropriate.

Next week:
Roasted Shiitake Bibimap w/ Sweet Potato and Pickled Cucumbers (we’ll need to supply 2 eggs for this one)
Steak au Poivre w/ Crispy Fingerling Potatoes