A year ago, I never really understood the appeal of these places. I mean, what’s the big deal? You go to this shop, you make a meal and you cook it at home. While I’m always looking for
short cuts with minimal effort timesavers, it still sounded like a bit of work to get a complete “home cooked” dinner on the table. With twin preschoolers, it’s a constant worry – making sure they eat a well-balanced meal for dinner.
Then, I won a party at Super Suppers at the auction/fundraiser of my local parents of multiples club and my eyes were opened. Wow! Every ingredient is already collected into a single spot for you to make a complete entrée. No more running to the grocery store to get that bottle of sweet chili sauce I would use only once for this one dish. No more wracking my brain trying to figure out what we would have each night. And, I could prepare a variety of meals in a miniscule amount of time it would normally take. I purchased three different meals that evening.
The overall reviews from husband and children were, “It’s OK.” Hmmmmmmm…not the reaction I expected…or wanted. After all, I did want to do this again – have everything ready to go for a delicious entrée in 30 minutes or less with minimal thought and planning on my part. But I scrapped that idea, sadly. I mean, the important thing is that everyone is happy with the meal. If they don’t like it or are mediocre about it, then it’s not worth the money, even if it did save me some time. Another reason I decided it wasn’t for us was the bit of guilt (yes I’m Catholic) I felt knowing that if I just took the time to read through my recipe books and stop by the grocery store to buy the ingredients, I really could create this stuff on my own. Many of the ingredients at Super Suppers were ready-made in bottles and cans in the grocery store anyway. It would just take some advanced planning…which is not my forte when it comes to cooking.
A couple weeks ago, I learned that I didn’t have to give up on that idea entirely (Yippee!). I just had to be more selective about where I prepped (or obtained pre-prepped) meals. And that is Chef Dane’s. Fab-U-Lous!
Chef Dane is a member of Gemini Crickets and has 11-month-old twins, along with a 3-year-old. He invited the board of Gemini Crickets to hold our bi-monthly meeting there last week. We enjoyed a “Sample, Sip & Savor Party” (Oh, the perks of being on the board!) which included dishes from this month’s menu along with drinks and great conversation (well OK, our meeting discussions). The food was delectable and Chef Dane was a very accommodating host.
Our menu for the evening included: Singapore Chicken Stew, Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce, Thai Chicken Satay with 2 Sauces, Trio of Vegetarian Raviolis with Pesto Sauce, Asparagus and Brie Strata, Turkey Picadillo Empanadas, Green Salad and Cookies. Everything was truly gourmet. One dish I would love to stockpile in my freezer – the crab cakes. So much yummy crab…it was the best crab cake I ever had (and I’ve had a lot!).
I learned a valuable lesson that evening. Fresh versus canned or bottled. It’s no contest – especially in the meal preparation business. Because Chef Dane is a real chef, his palate is certainly far more discerning than mine. As such, his requirement for fresh ingredients in his dishes makes all the difference in the resultant flavors of his plates. In fact, based on the food we tasted, I bought a couple meals that were already prepped and ready to go (they were “left over” from a previous meal prepping session). If the dinner was that tasty, I figured the meals must be just as delicious. I chose Macadamia Nut-Crusted Grouper Fish with a Ginger-Mango Sauce with Wild Rice and Paella with Prawns. I prepared the grouper fish dish the other night. I’m a big mango fan. If something has mango, it’s gotta be good…and I was right. The intense flavor of the mango/ginger combination with the grouper was perfection. The macadamia nut crust offered a rather nice, crunchy texture. The wild rice was a wonderful complement.
And the reviews? “Excellent,” said my husband and “Yummy, Mommy,” added my daughters. Yea! I have to say, I felt quite proud – as if I conceived of and made the whole thing myself. Ha ha ha Well, I was still quite happy, even though I just assembled what Chef Dane had created. After all, I’m the one that “discovered” Chef Danes and I’m looking forward to being a frequent customer after I discovered they offer a pick-up location just a few blocks from my home. I have a feeling that checking out the new menus each month may be like celebrating Christmas every few weeks.