Tag Archives: fresh direct

Birds Eye Samples

13 Sep

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a few free samples of the new Birds Eye Chef’s Favorites frozen sides.  I am unable to take part in many Tastemaker programs because they send coupons and I, sadly, don’t live near a grocery store and get almost all my groceries from FreshDirect.  So I was SO excited when they sent me a box of the actual product to try.

Over the past few weeks, we have found multiple reasons to use them as a great side for proteins that we were cooking.

We first tried the mushroom and green bean risotto.

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It was a creamier version of rice, but I’m not sure if I would call it “risotto.”  It did taste quite good, however, and I especially liked the amount of flavor in the green beans. (I always worry about frozen veggies tasting like water)

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We paired with with tequila lime shrimp and some sautéed spinach with shallots.

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Next we tried the roasted red potatoes and green beans with parmesan olive oil sauce. 

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This one we heated in a pot instead of in the microwave.  Just as easy (just dirties a pot, of course).

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This was my favorite of the bunch. The potatoes were well cooked (not too mushy, not too tough) and the green beans were as good as the ones in the risotto. Yum!

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We paired this with an awesome butter poached baked chicken and they went very well together.

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We also tried the creamed spinach (which was so good that I didn’t even realize it came from a frozen bag until Mike told me).  Separately, I was enjoying these so much that I ordered  the Specially Seasoned Garlic Baby Peas and Mushrooms from Fresh Direct.

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Perhaps I’m a garlic snob, but these were not nearly garlicky enough for me.  They just kind of tasted like frozen peas and mushrooms.  I found this one also needed salt more than the others.

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I think the Chef’s Favorites are really the way to go with Birds Eye.  They are perfect “afterthought” sides because they heated up in just a few minutes, so you don’t need to plan too much to use them.  Since I find myself concentrating more on proteins than sides, this was a perfect way to make an easy meal. I was impressed with the flavor and quality, and will be buying these again (hey FreshDirect… please add these to your product list!)

(While I did receive these samples for free, I was not at all required to blog about them, nor provide a positive review accordingly.  All opinions are expressly mine and reflect my honest take on the product.)

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Project Food Blog #2: “The Classics”

26 Sep

It has been a big week for NYC Nom Nom.  First, I found out that my recipe was selected to appear (with me, of course) on the Wendy Williams Show LIVE this Tuesday!  I will be up against 2 other audience members in a dessert competition that will be judged by Gail Simons and Johnny Iuzzini for a Top Chef: Just Desserts segment.  I am making a Double Trouble Peanut Butter Cup that was inspired by a concoction I made for Mike’s birthday last year.  I just did a test round and it turned out really well!  I will be sure to blog about it after the show, however, don’t forget to tune in at 10am LIVE in the New York area on Fox 5.  If you are not in New York or want to catch it later that day, you can find the rest of the Wendy Williams TV schedule here.

Second, I filmed my first video blog for Nom Nom.  Stay tuned for a vlog about making a Chocolate Meringue.

Lastly, I was THRILLED to find out that I have advanced to Round 2 of Project Food Blog.  Thank you everyone for voting!  This week’s theme is “The Classics.”  The challenge is to take a classic that is out of your comfort zone and cook it as close as possible to the original.  For my Classic, I chose to go with Banh Mi.  First, Vietnamese food is VERY out of my comfort zone.  While I make a lot of classic American, Jewish, and Italian cuisine, Vietnamese is in a totally different ball game.  On top of that, I was using a slow cooker for the first time.  I received one for my birthday a few weeks ago and this seemed like a great opportunity to try it for the first time.

So why Banh Mi?  Well… we have been watching The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network and I was THRILLED to see that there  was a truck called The Nom Nom Truck competing.  We also were lucky enough to go to the LA Times Food Festival when we were out in LA 2 weeks ago (blog to come) and sampled the delicious food from The Nom Nom Truck.

The closest I have come to cooking Vietnamese is ordering in on Seamless Web.  I’ve had my share of Pho delivery and have dined at a few Vietnamese places in NYC, however, most of the ingredients and cooking methods are out of my comfort zone.  I’m also not a huge sandwich fan, nor have I ever made a point of making a fancy one.

Last night before bed, we prepped the pork for the slow cooker.  The first step was just melting sugar.  Now I’ve only melted sugar with butter or water in the past, so I was nervous that it would burn, but it melted into liquid and caramelized quite easily.

Once it all turns to liquid, you pour in chicken stock and fish sauce.  Now the recipe warned that the ”caramel will harden and steam vigorously.” What I didn’t expect was splattered liquid all over the stove that quenched the gas flame and hardened the caramel to a complete solid.  I spent the next few minutes quite nervous that one of my favorite pots was ruined and I’d have to start all over, however, the caramel did in fact melt and all was well (after a bit of clean up). 

Next, I added the shallots, garlic, and white(ish) parts of the scallions.

The smell was fantastic while it boiled for 4 minutes.

Mike was nice enough to chop up the pork while I prepped.

All that was left to do that night was throw it all in the slow cooker, set it to low, and leave it for 8 hours.  Couldn’t be easier!

I was quite nervous when I woke up the next morning.  I have never used a slow cooker and didn’t know what to expect.  Luckily, it looked (and SMELLED!) fantastic.

The morning prep involved a quick pickling of carrots and daikon.  I have eaten daikon a few times in my life, but I didn’t realize that, when raw, it looks like a giant white carrot.  I’ve never really cooked with daikon before, though it’s very popular in Vietnamese cuisine.  Turns out, it tastes a bit like a bitter raddish when raw.

I’m not the best with a knife, so we peeled both with a peeler and used the shavings for the veggies.

The next step was to soak it in vinegar, sugar, and water for 30 minutes (or up to overnight).

We got parbaked bread from Fresh Direct and heated it up as the last prep step.

Next up was assembly.  I spread it with mayo and the pickled veggies.

Then cilantro.

Then the meat and some more veggies and cilantro on top.

So how was it?  Well… even my pork-protesting sister enjoyed it if that says anything.  I thought it was delicious, but it wouldn’t be able to compete with the Nom Nom Truck’s sandwich. 

It was a lot of fun, however, to do something so out of my comfort zone and try new techniques.  I can’t wait to try some more challenges!  Keep ‘em coming Project Food Blog!

Happy Nomming!

(And don’t forget to watch The Wendy Williams Show on Tuesday!!!!)

Braised Cucumbers: Take 1

5 Mar

So I had read about FeistyFoodie’s love of braised cucumbers and fondly remembered this from the Julie & Julia movie, so when I finally saw cucumbers go on sale on Fresh Direct, I jumped at the chance to try it.  The cucumber I got was one of those “this is way too big to not make a crude joke about” types and I think I may have let it sit for too long… because my braised cucumbers were just an epic fail. (sad face)

They tasted like they were just soggy, old cucumbers.  GROSS!  Though I am blaming my veggie selection rather than just the recipe… for now.  I also failed to remove the seeds as I didn’t think this would have too much of an impact on the final result, but perhaps I was wrong.

I will try again!

Make it a Meal

11 Jan

Last minute one weekday night, mom decided she would stop by my apartment with her boyfriend, Rich, for a meal and to take my key so she could cat sit (thanks again mom!)  Luckily, I had enough in the fridge to make a meal for four.

I knew I had to make the Krispy Krack Kale since I’d been raving about it (I even had an extra bushel to send home with her to make her own!)  I also used the squash recipe that turned out so well last time.  We also heated up some pappardelle and put a butter/wine/shallot sauce on top.  I also had a smallish lemon herb roasted chicken in the fridge from Fresh Direct.

It was certainly a cobbled together meal, but it turned out delicious!  And I managed to have it all on the table in under an hour.  It’s nice to know that I can actually cook for more than two people!

More Grand Central Market and Fresh Direct Goodies

21 Dec

I’ve already written about the Veal Bratwurst from the Market in Grand Central Station twice.  I really like them.  They’re sweet and flavorful without being over powering.  We picked up some more on our last adventure home from Westchester and decided it was time to spice them up a bit… so we cooked them in beer and onions and then grilled them on our stove grill top.


It was very easy to do.

Next up I had some miniature sweet potatoes from a recent Fresh Direct order.  I love fingerling potatoes, and I love sweet potatoes, so I was hoping the merger would work in my favor.

I decided to roast them the way I did the purple potatoes last time that went so well with the brats.

To complete the meal, Mike suggested we make a cold bean salad in a vinegar dressing.  I was game and we picked up green beans and wax beans from a stand at the Grand Central Market.

We blanched them for just about 3-4 minutes and then stuck them in a bowl of ice water.

Then we dressed them up with shallots, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

The completed plates were quire pretty.


As it turns out, I much prefer these brats just cooked on their own.  The beer and onions gave it a flavor that I thought I SHOULD have liked,but just didn’t.  It took away from the naturally good flavor of the brat itself.  Oh well!

The sweet potatoes were also good but not as good as those purple potatoes.  I also can’t seem to get them browned in the same way.  That first time was definitely the best and I haven’t been able to repeat it since.

The best part of the meal was definitely the bean salad.  Props to Mike for the idea and execution.  Nom Nom Nommy.

Fresh Flavors of Fall

18 Nov

Our new apartment is absolutely amazing (have I mentioned I have a pantry, dish washer, 5 burner stove, convection oven, touch screen microwave, and french door fridge?  Yeah… AMAZING!  I still can’t believe we got this place!) however, the one thing really missing in the neighborhood is a grocery store.  I spent the first 2.5 of 3 years of my last apartment in the same predicament.  FreshDirect became a very good friend.  I don’t find it more expensive than grocery stores on most things, and on some things I’m pretty sure I actually save money.  Delivery is only about $6 and I usually find a deal on a DeliveryPass anyway so it’s around $50 for the year.  It sucks that we can’t run out for a dozen eggs or a slab of butter when I realize we’ve run out, but I’m glad to have the FreshDirect solution for most things.

This past order they had acorn squash on sale.  I usually would just roast it and throw on some butter and brown sugar,  however, with my super-duper new kitchen I wanted to do something a bit more special.  FreshDirect had a recipe suggestion of acorn squash with fresh cranberries and baked apples.  Done.  I went to the handy shopping list and got all the ingredients I needed.  My only regret is that I just got one squash and not more! (Oh and if anyone has any great ideas for what to do with the remaining huge bag of fresh cranberries other than making sauce, I’m all ears!)

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RECIPE
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(Since I only had one squash, I cut most of the recipe in about 1/4)

Ingredients:

  • ·      4 small acorn squash
  • ·      2 medium apples, unpeeled, chopped
  • ·      1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • ·      1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ·      2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • ·      1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • ·      1 tablespoon butter, melted


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut squash lengthwise into halves and discard seed. Arrange squash cut side down in a baking dish and add 1/2-inch water. Bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Combine apples, cranberries, brown sugar, almonds, orange juice, and margarine in a bowl and mix well. Turn squash cut side up and spoon apple mixture into squash cavities. Bake for 30 minutes.

My first attempt at Osso Buco

13 Nov

I have an affinity for Osso Buco that goes beyond normal.  I try not to think about it too much, as the extra layer under my chin doesn’t need any more fatty goodness and marrow, however, when FreshDirect had it on sale, I couldn’t resist.  I really wasn’t sure how to make it, so I found a recipe with a picture that reminded me of the ones I have preferred (most notably at Montenapo and Becco, as well as the lamb one at Charles).

The recipe wound up being very simple and basic, actually.  The only thing it really requires is time.  2.5 hours of braising made it clearly a Sunday meal.




I paired it with a quick prepare, microwavable side from Fresh Direct (“Sides in a Snap” Mascarpone and Mushroom Risotto with Chives) and a steamed artichoke dipped in Roasted Garlic Butter. Adding roasted garlic to butter for dipping is my new favorite way to eat artichokes.  There are few things I find more easily delightful to make than roasted garlic.


The final meal was a great combination, and the Osso Buco was good, but it just wasn’t great.  I guess I really shouldn’t compare my first attempt with restaurants that are known for making it great… but I still wanted more.  It was perfectly tender but the meat itself just didn’t have the same flavor.  I’m not sure if this was the fault of the cut or my preparation.  But I will try again and work to improve it to ❤ caliber.

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RECIPE
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Osso Buco

Ingredients:

  • ·      1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ·      2 teaspoons salt
  • ·      1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ·      2 pounds veal shank
  • ·      3 tablespoons butter
  • ·      3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ·      1 cup chopped onion
  • ·      1 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • ·      1/2 cup chopped celery (I omitted due to hatred)
  • ·      2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ·      1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ·      1 cup water
  • ·      1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ·      1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ·      3 sprigs fresh parsley (I used dried. Seemed fine)
  • ·      1 bay leaf

Directions:

1.         In a shallow dish, stir together flour, salt, and black pepper. Dredge meat in seasoned flour. In a large skillet, melt butter with oil over medium heat. Brown meat. Remove meat from pan, and set aside.

2.         Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to drippings in pan. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes.

3.         Stir in tomato sauce, water, basil, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Return meat to pan. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cover, and cook for 2 1/2 hours.