Friday, January 31, 2014

Hello Fresh Dinner Date

I really like to cook. Like really. I think it relieves stress. I also love food (as you might have noticed), but my biggest problem with cooking is that I have to buy gobs of ingredients and there are always some things leftover and then I have to figure out what to do with them or they go bad, etc.

Which is why, when I got a coupon for a new service called Hello Fresh, I decided to try it.

The Pros:
  • The recipes are "healthy" (this is in quotes because a few are probably not as healthy as I'd like but nothing is unhealthy either)
  • The exact ingredients for three meals are delivered to my door on Wednesday. They're nicely labeled in separate bags and the recipe cards are included.
  • Everything is fresh!
  • The recipes are easy to follow--with pictures--and they take under 30 minutes.
  • It's available right now in half the country almost--not just NY.
The Cons:
  • It's a weekly subscription service. You can pause deliveries and it seems easy to cancel. Since I was trying it out, I just quickly paused week 2 when I first signed up.
  • I don't think there's a gluten free option but there is a vegetarian option.
  • The delivery time is between 8 am and 8 pm which is a pretty big window. Luckily for me I had someone who would be there to grab the box for me.
The box arrived Wednesday evening while I was at the gym, but there were some very interested customers that inspected it.


I got three recipes (which I chose out of five options).

And the boyfriend and I decided to go with the fish recipe first and make a date out of it.

So Roasted Salmon with Garlic Grape Tomatoes. Here's the recipe so you can see what it's like.

I will say that at the end I wish that I used less olive oil. The recipe calls for 1 tsp for each filet of salmon and then 2 Tbsps to cook the garlic tomatoes. The tomatoes and fish were both excellent but did seem a little on the oily side. So if Healthy is your thing, you could halve the olive oil.

Otherwise I really enjoyed this cooking experience.

To start, boil your potatoes and pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Then halve your grape tomatoes, shred your basil, mince your garlic and cut the ends off your green beans.

Put your salmon on a cookie sheet. Pour a tsp of olive oil (or just a half) over each filet and sprinkle some salt and pepper on them.

Pop the salmon into the oven for 9 minutes.

Then put 2 Tbsp (or just 1) of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Throw in your minced garlic.

By now your potatoes should be boiling. They need to boil for about 10-15 minutes so just let them go at it.

Add your tomatoes to your oil and garlic and mix it all up. Let this cook for 4-5 minutes.

When the time is up, turn off the heat and add your basil to your tomatoes.

Add your green beans to the potatoes for the last two minutes of their boiling.

At this point, your salmon should be just about done. When it is, take the salmon out. It should look like this (but maybe with less oil...).

Put everything together on a plate! 

I'm not lying when I say this was quite good. I'm going make the chicken fajitas tonight and the risotto tomorrow night.

Then I'm probably going to keep my subscription to Hello Fresh. I probably won't use it every week though. I have some weeks where cooking dinner just isn't in the plans (like when I'm on deadline--delivery is just so much easier.)

And...after I started writing this blogpost, I got an email encouraging me to share my experience on social media (check). In the email there's also a refer a friend code. If you want to try HelloFresh, this code (GYGE9Q) will get you $20 off your first delivery.

Last but not least--my next blog won't be about food. Promise.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Congrats Brooks!

You may have seen the announcement, but Brooks Sherman is getting Bent. That is, today is his first day as part of the Bent Agency.

I'm fortunate enough to call Brooks my friend and he was actually my first reader on Unraveling way back in the day before I ever thought I'd be published. In fact, you can blame him for setting all this into motion.

A group of us went to lunch at Resto to celebrate his move.

I got all bundled up for the trek to the east side.

This was my first time at Resto which is a lovely favorite lunch place of the Brooks.

Once there, we toasted with the Sharkly Janet Reid who set up this celebratory lunch. She and Brooks both ordered Belgian Hungover Pasta (she's behind the napkin).

This, I think, was the winningest entree if you will. I stole a few bites of several of these entrees and I admit I'm a little jealous I didn't order the pasta.

The talented Jeff Somers (I just ordered his novel, Chum, because I am beyond excited to read it) sat next to Joanna and ordered a caesar salad and a grilled cheese.

Joanna had a kale salad and beef tartare.

Next to me, Dan Krokos had a burger and I went for the tuna sandwich, which was surprisingly spicy, but in a good way.

At the end of lunch we all went for coffee (americano) or tea (earl grey--this was me). Then we split the flourless chocolate cake (except for Janet who prefers her chocolate cake with flour). It was good, though it had peaches soaked in some kind of alcohol, which was a bit of a surprise!

It was a great lunch--and a long one--a perfect send off for Brooks. Before heading getting all bundled up again, we hugged it out.

Brooks is an awesome person, a talented agent, with pretty great taste in my opinion (of course, I'm biased), and I wish him so many great things at the Bent Agency. And if you know any querying writers, point them in his direction!

To Brooks!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dinner With a View

For the boyfriend's birthday, I took him to dinner. While I have a few of my favorite restaurants in the city, I (almost) always want to try something new. Especially when it involves a birthday toast.

There's something exciting about trying a new place.

When I got an email from Gilt City which included a coupon for dinner (one appetizer, one side, two entrees and a bottle of wine for $79) at Haven Rooftop, I took it as a sign. This was the restaurant we should try.

(Of course later the thought did occur to me that a rooftop restaurant in this weather might not be the smartest idea, but I dismissed it. If they were sending out coupons, it wouldn't actually be outside...right? Well, I was right and wrong, in a sense. The restaurant is tented with a clear tent--and heated--so it's the best of both worlds. You still have a great view but you're not freezing.)

We did not regret my choice.

I've walked by the Sanctuary hotel and wondered what it was a number of times. It just looks so fancy. It's this beautiful old building with columns and a red carpet and two bouncer looking fellows guarding the door. I meant to snap a picture when I walked up, but it was so cold that I forgot.

When we arrived, we went up to the roof and were ushered to our seats. We had a special menu for the Gilt City coupon.

We ended up with a bottle of pinot grigio. I did let the birthday boy choose, but I'm pretty sure the win choice was in consideration for me. I tend to go for the chilled white wine most often. He did get a birthday scotch though so he didn't complain.

For an appetizer, we started with steak tacos--the boyfriend's choice, and it was a good one.

Even the tortilla chips were good.

After that we sat back and enjoyed the view.

The tent doesn't make for the best pictures, but you get the idea.

For dinner, I did the Gnocchi (with truffle oil!) which was so good that I dreamt about it last night.

This picture really doesn't do it justice (the sun was setting and I only had my iphone).

The boyfriend got the Steak Au Poivre and then we shared them both, along with a side of garlic mashed potatoes which I forgot to snap a picture of. It's okay though, they looked like what you'd expect. They just tasted better.

After dinner we looked at the dessert menu.

We decided on Creme Brulee...

And a warm Irish Cream Caramel Coffee. (Reading the description, I actually forgot that I wouldn't like the coffee.)

And since the boyfriend was telling everyone who would listen that it was his birthday, the restaurant brought us a sparkler and played a happy birthday song for the whole restaurant. I couldn't have planned it better myself. (Which was a good thing, since I was so involved in the food).

The food was fabulous. The view was just as good.

It's safe to say that despite my desire to try new places, we're going to go back to Haven. It might be one of my new favorites.

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