Relishing the Pro Chef Life: Fresh Meal Delivery Service from Relished Foods

UPDATE: 8.21.14 Relished has expanded and rebranded to become Home Chef.  They now offer vegan and veg friendly menus as well…all the more reason to stay home and be lazy instead of grocery shopping!

Ooo we are so sick of winter in Chiberia and we’ve had too many days of stir crazy all day pajama pants wearing.  This weather sure hasn’t made it easy to get out to grocery shop, let alone put on any real semblance of clothes.  Enter Relished Foods to conquer any reason to brave the cold white landscape we now call home.

Relished, is a fledgling Chicago area company that delivers fresh ingredients with clear visual instructions to cook healthy delicious meals like a pro.  Each order includes three meals for one week.  Recipes rotate weekly.

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Now to the good food stuff!

We received 3 recipes:

  • Farfalle Pasta with Shrimp
  • Arugula and Fennel Salad with Chicken
  • Naan Pizza

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We were hesitant about the Farfalle Pasta recipe which seemed too simple and possibly bland but once we noticed the fresh prepped ingredients and easy instructions our curiosity got us….  Farfalle Pasta sans Shrimp recipe included fresh baby spinach, basil, plump juicy cherry tomatoes, garlic and asiago cheese.  This is how manageable the recipes are.  We washed the vegetables, sliced the cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic.  Lastly, we added EVOO, sea salt and grounded whole black pepper…so taxing (wink)!

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Once we took a bite of this dish, we were pleasantly surprised by the flavors.  Although simple, the dish was satisfying and complex.

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With the arugula, we got to experience some ingredients we don’t usually utilize like fennel, and even champagne vinegar (you fancy, huh).  The chicken was lean and still juicy.  Relished packaging made it manageable to have one vegetarian and one omnivore eating the same meals as the meats were packaged separately from the veggies.

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The naan pizza made us giggle in delight because we love artichokes, roasted red peppers and onions.  All you had to do was plop the toppings on and bake.  The recipe made two 8 inch pizzas.

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What we learned about getting Relished pro chef meals sent to our house:

  1. All meals take 30 minutes or less and require minimal cooking skills.
  2. Recipe cards were visually stimulating, well articulated and can be used again!
  3. Food came in a space aged cooler box and ingredients stayed fresh until we were ready to cook.
  4. Meals cost around $10 a serving.

We really appreciated that all meals were veggie heavy, creative and delicious.  Relished is only about 6 months in and they have also indicated that they are exploring only veggie/vegan meal options to expand their dietary offerings.  Now if only they would send us some hot cocoa to warm things up for us, we be all about staying in for another week or so.

Thanks to Relished for inviting us to try such yummy and vegetastic meals!!

 

 

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Ay Chica WoW WoW, we heart sexy tacos!

Our constant gratitude attitude must be working this holiday season.  We got a karmic invite recently from Rockit PR goddess, Kara Callera, to chow-wow down at Billy Dec’s most recent restaurant installment, ¡AY CHIWOWA! (throwing out a couple more thanks, universe!).

Highlight Reel:  AY CHIWOWA is at the tip of River North on Orleans and Chicago (worth noting as there is secret free parking in the area if you are willing to stretch those Chicago winter legs for a block or two).  Perfect spot for: After work drinks and apps with coworkers (lots of specials for those of us on a “paying back college loans” budget), partying on the weekend with your lady friends (VIP service and private room space in the back of the spot) or an upbeat date with someone who likes it loud.  AY CHIWOWA is also known for their immense selection of tequilas and creative cocktails, such as the spicy Acai Jalapeno Margarita, so call an Uber or a pink mustached Lyft in honor of Movember if you wanna get down.

As cold as it was outside the night of our visit, we received a warm welcome from staff and like a T.I. rap song, we were invited to have whatever we liiiiiked.  The music was bumping with throw back jams like “Snoop Doggy Dog” and an ugly sweater train of patrons danced past us as we settled ourselves at our cozy table.  As Jill, our bubbly and attentive server, brought out a bevy of items, the dudes next to us probably thought we were trying to add some extra padding for the long winter.

 

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Here’s the good, the amazing and the meh OK of AY CHIWOWA battling it out for best thing in our bellies.

Starters: 

Fresh chunky mango guacamole and roasted salsa paired with hot salted tortilla chips

VS.

Queso fundido (aka big old bowl of melty mexicheese) with sauteed peppers, onions and garlic

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner?  Tie.  If we were on a deserted island and only had one food to live on, we would be praying some avocados would be drop from the sky.  The queso fundido, however, was a surprise plus with its flavorful veggie additions.

Veggie Entrees Throwdown:

Veggie Quesadilla

VS.

Veggie Tacos

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner: Somehow queso fundido jumped in the cage match and beat up both veggie quesadilla and veggie tacos.  All three featured the similar sauteed peppers and onions leaving the veggie variety a little lacking.  Maybe throw some black bean tacos on the menu to entice the veg/vegan crowd?

Meaty Martial Arts Taco Match:

Slow cooked brisket-like Barbacoa

VS.

Adobe Veracruz style Chicken

VS.

Pork Belly with pickled radish

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¡AY CHIWOWA!

Winner: Barbacoa!!!  The short rib meat was so juicy and tasty that no toppings were actually needed.  The bright watercress salad on top of the taco zeroed in on the melt in your mouth texture of the taco.  The chicken came in second with a solid Adobo spice and pleasing texture.

Our coup d’etat and game changers, though, were two sugar dusted churros, with a perfect balance of soft fluffy insides and crunchy outsides, accompanied by an addictive hot cajeta sauce.  When we think of churros, usually its those stale carnival ones, not very thrilling to cupcake connoisseurs, but “someone” enjoyed them so much a bite of churro “mysteriously” ended up in her mouth…and then the stare down began.

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¡AY CHIWOWA!  Thanks again for hosting us!!

Looking for more of what’s hot in Chicago?  Follow Billy Dec’s blog http://www.achicagothing.com and twitter https://twitter.com/billydec

Meatless Monday “Meat” Loaf

Are you reaaaaaady…to learn how to make delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes just in time for Thanksgiving?  Are you prepared to make plant based entrées fit for even the most carnivorous foodie?  You won’t even miss the meat!

On my beauteous bday, I attended Whole Foods Market Cooking School in Lincoln Park to learn about preparing meatless meals thanks to Google+ Local Chicago.

“Meat” Loaf

  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils such as Melissa’s Steamed Lentils (all natural, no preservatives, non-GMO)
  • 2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup rolled oats, blended such as Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tbsp sage
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp ketchup to spread on loaf

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a blender, place rolled oats and blend into powder
  • In a saute pan, add oil.  Italian seasoning and sage.  Allow to cook until oil absorbs spices and aroma fills the air.  Add onions and garlic.  Saute until onions are translucent and soft.
  • In a large bowl, add cooked lentils, cooked rice, blended oats, sauted onion and garlic mixture, crushed tomatoes and BBQ sauce.  Mix thoroughly.

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  • Pour loaf mixture into a well-greased bread pan and pat down.  Add ketchup to the top and with the back of spoon, spread to coat the exposed loaf.

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  • Bake for 1 hour.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and enjoy!!

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Kate has been bugging me to demonstrate my new culinary skills for the holiday.  She may have to wait for Part 2, French Onion Soup and Mushroom Gravy, coming soon!  Don’t drool like her while you’re waiting. 😉

**Recipe from Whole Foods Cooking School, Lincoln Park