Summer Cooking Made Easy Breezy With Plated
Everything you’ll need to cook a fab meal comes in a perfectly curated box!
PS. This is such a great way to learn how to cook.
Try it for yourself, use the promo code COFFEEANDCHAMPAGNE20 to get $20 off your first 3 orders (you're welcome)!
One of the best parts about my job is how often I am able to try new—or, at least new-to-me—approaches to food in the name of “WERK”! As a human, I love trying new things but always thought that a meal delivery kit service wouldn’t be the right fit for me. I mean, I develop recipes for a living and live in Manhattan surrounded by incredible restaurants each a stone's throw from the nearest pigeon, so in what scenario would I need this kind of box? If I didn’t cook and dine in restaurants for a living I’d be obsessed with the concept of these boxes but all things staying the same, they didn’t intrigue me. Then, well, life changed.
One major piece of that change is that I sold my adorable 550 square foot Manhattan apartment that I’ve called home for the last eleven years to move on up and find a bigger space (stay tuned for more on that). No, it’s not that seamless move everyone crosses their fingers and prays for where I simply shuttle my eleven years worth of goods into my new space and voila start my new life. BUT, it’s not horrible either. You see, I have the most incredible in-laws in the world. Having been with my husband since I was 16 and he was 18, my in-laws are seriously my parents, too. Here comes the awesome part. They own two houses on the same block in the Bronx. One of which they are in the renovating. As the super generous people that they are they welcomed us into it with open arms hoping that we’d live there forever but knowing it would likely be for the summer. Long story short, I live in the Bronx now—don’t worry, you’ll still run into me in the city, I’m there almost every day.
movin' on up-town
Home life is pretty different now. I mean, in the city, I had three gourmet grocery stores in a five-block radius. Here, I have to hop in a car and drive fifteen minutes to the nearest acceptable one. And, restaurants that don’t have a drive-through—ahem, “Drive Thru” (the grammar police inside me cringes every time I see that spelling)—or only offer counter service have yet to be found. In my first three days here, I visited the grocery store four times. It’s exhausting! Plus, the hour-and-a-half commute from the city back here gets me home too late to really want to plan what to cook—trust me, I tried, and didn’t end up eating dinner until 11 PM. I needed a solution.
There it was, as if the heavens themselves opened, an email from Plated, the online subscription meal service that allows even beginners to cook restaurant-worthy meals at home in an effortless 30-minutes. In the past, there would be no real conversation here but now, now this email felt nothing short of fate. We got to chatting about working together and, well, the rest is written here in front of you!
as with any recipe of mine, you should read through all of the recipe’s steps before cooking. This way you know what you’ll need to do and can be ready for it instead of surprised by it. Wouldn’t you hate to find out the strainer you need is dirty while your pasta is over-cooking and you have no way to fix that now causing you to have mushy pasta?
Recipe, easy as 1,2,3
First thing’s first, I visited the Plated website, scrolled through a variety of beautifully plated, vibrantly colored, fresh, seasonal dishes, selected the ones I want to make, how many people I want to cook for, and ordered away! Easy as pie (dare I say like the pizza pie I made??)!
Next thing I knew, there it was! A box filled with all of the goodies I needed to cook up the two quick recipes I had selected was right smack at my door—no jumping in a car, no pushing around a grocery cart, no digging through piles of produce to find the best squash. It was all there in a perfectly packed box, each ingredient was portioned perfectly and labeled for ease.
As someone who cooks all of the time, cooking up these dishes was awesome because all of the thinking was already done for me by the trusted expert chefs at Plated. Which quite literally means, I just had to roll up my sleeves, read direct steps like, “quarter summer squash lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, discarding ends”, glance at a pretty photo that illustrates exactly what each step should look like, and, well, do what I’m told—honestly, it felt pretty foolproof!!
What I’m loving the most is that the dish I made at home came out looking exactly like the one in the Plated photos—I didn’t even have to try, I just followed the steps and, VOILA, that’s the final outcome. I got to thinking about how and why that differs from most of recipes I’ve tried in the past. Yes, they always come out beautifully but not often feeling “the same” as what I see in the photos. Then, I realized it’s because I’m using the exact ingredients the Plated chef not only recommends but hand selects and delivers to me. THIS IS IMPORTANT! You see, when I’ve gone behind-the-scenes and spoken with chefs at high-end restaurants they’ve talked about repurposing produce that has even the slightest shape oddity because all of their dishes have to be cohesive in case (1) you are a returning guest ordering the same meal because you loved it so much and want it the exact same way you remembered it, or (2) if you spot a dish at the table next to you and decide When Harry Met Sally style and say, “I’ll have what she’s having” you actually get it. Obsessed.
I seriously can’t wait to recommend Plated to all of my friends who are intimidated by the idea of hard-boiling their own eggs. Now, the tables can get turned and they can cook for me! Friends, I'm just trying to take your already lovely summer barbecues to the next level. I mean, just picture it, either of the recipes featured here would be a game-changing vegetarian option to have on your gingham clad spread. I know I'd be the first one to dive in, they're too pretty not to eat (well, not to photograph and then eat—you know me)!
When it comes to me, I love the idea of having this fresh and seamless meal option for any given summer day whether with a big group or even on a rando Tuesday in the backyard with my husband and in-laws. It's an impressive looking summer meal that requires minimal effort (which you know I need after that long train ride) and is leaps and bounds better than any takeout around. PS. who wants to spend more time than necessary in a hot kitchen in the summer heat? I know I’d rather be outside sipping a refreshing bubbly bevy and kicking back with great people while still pulling in all of the compliments about how great my cooking is.
I’ve digressed. Back to this specific dinner that I recently cooked. I actually finished cooking my two dishes with time to spare before dinner—which is an incredible rarity these days. With my little bit of extra time, I set up a cute little table for two out on our front porch, pulled out all of the comfy furnishings I could find, strung up some lights, and invited my hubby and puppy out for a homemade delicious meal in our new home. We both agreed, “we could get used to this”!