Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Clearcutmeals.com: Quick and Easy Homemade Meals for Urbanites on the Go!

By: Anne M. Raso

When I was handed a flyer for clearcutmeals.com at the 77th and Lexington subway a few months ago, I was quite intrigued by its promise to send you free same-day delivery of ingredients for the entree and sides of your choice and that most cooked in 18 minutes or less. So I had to try the service for myself (delivery is only available on the Upper East Side of Manhattan -- where I live -- otherwise you must pick items up yourself at their location at 218 East 81st Street between Second and Third Avenues). Each recipe has three to five ingredients already cut up an carefully placed in plastic bags with a number to correspond to each. The attached recipe card tells you when to put in each numbered ingredient! How easy is that? We are pleased to say that each ingredient was super fresh and that the meats were of prime quality (for instance, the steak meat was Black Angus skirt steak from Creekstone Farms and chicken breasts were from Bell & Evans).

 I personally cooked four entrees and four sides up on consecutive nights last week and found that we LOVED EVERYTHING WE COOKED and might even steal a few of the recipes for our own kitchen. The first night I made the NYC Baby Back RIbs with a side of Roasted Brussels sprouts.
The Baby Back Ribs is the one slow-cooking item on the entire clearcutmeals.com menu and the fall-off-the-bone meat comes wrapped in foil already covered with sauce--you just have to slow cook at 300 for 2 1/2 hours! It's well worth the wait though since these ribs were to-die-for and totally were not overly saucy. The Roasted Brussels Sprouts came pre-cut (there were about 12 of them cut in half) and all I had to do was put them in the provided tin foil pan and drizzle the provided olive oil on them--and then wait for them to cook at 400 degrees for a half hour.
Meal Number Two was Lemon Chicken and Garlic Green Beans, which is part of their Light 'N Healthy fare section on the site. But the best part?? The one-pan recipe took only 11 minutes to prepare!  The Bell & Evans chicken breast came packed with ice, so I basically just threw it in a pan with the supplied two tablespoon of olive oil, then added the garlic, chicken stock, white wine, lemons and herbs. Just so you know, the clearcutmeals.com people threw in a hearty chunk of country bread and I was sad I could only take one bite since I am low carbing it as my big New Year's diet plan. 
The Garlic Green Beans took a total of 12 minutes and basically we just heated them in a saucepan with vegetable bouillon and sliced garlic...there was a whole lotta garlic in our kit (but you do not have to use the entire portion the company provides for you).
Meal Number Three was Steak Salad with a side of Tomato and Zucchini Melange. The steak portion was about four ounces and pre-marinated -- the strips got sauted in olive oil with chopped shallots for a few minutes and then all I had to do was take the meat and place it on top my mesclun greens, shredded carrots and grape tomatoes. A delicious low-all Balsamic Dijon dressing was also provided in a hearty portion, which I was able to use for leftover salad the next day. This particular item has a lot of greens so you might want to take the opportunity to purchase an additional pack of meat for four bucks and turn it into a second portion. 
The Tomato and Zucchini Melange was a no oil required, super healthy side dish--all I had to do was put the precut tomatoes, zucchini and yellow peppers along with a seasoning pack and pre-measured salsa in a saucepan with a little water, simmer for three to four minutes and it was quickly done.
Meal Number Four was the Tofu Stir Fry and Sauted Asparagus. The Tofu came already cubed, so I just threw it in the pan and cooked it with the mushrooms, vegetables and stir fry sauce for 10 minutes. The sauce was delicious and didn't feel greasy at all. This portion was large enough for two, I might add. 
The sauted asparagus portion was about 10 four to five-inch tips and they were cooked for six minutes in a skillet with the supplied chopped garlic, shallot, lemon juice and parsley--and then topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Besides tasting great and being easy to cook, many of the 25 plus dishes are under four hundred calories (nutritional info is available on the site). The average meal with side is about 11 dollars and gives a healthy alternative to busy urban dwellers who are prone to taking out greasy Chinese fare or eating food where the nutrition facts are an "unknown" and portions are too big. Visit clearcutmeals.com for more info and tell them financefoodie.com sent you!

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