Good folks at F&E contacted me to do a taste test of their "Holiday Meals Made Simple", heat-and-eat holiday meals for 8 people in one box.
How could anyone say no to THAT?
Besides, I was just thinking about ordering a holiday meal this year (*gasp!*) because my friends from Thailand will be staying with us through Christmas. To maximize time spent with friends, I chose to make it easy on myself with someone else's cooking this year.
I requested the Beef Rib Roast dinner which came with a pint of beef gravy, and one "potato" and two vegetable sides. My choices were potato gratin, petite carrots with honey butter, and cornbread and sausage stuffing.
Then I called up my girlfriends for our little holiday gathering. Amanda, Lee, and Aurora had participated in the past Twitter wine tastings, and Lupe attended one of the F&E event with me. So, they are all veteran F&E tasters and loyal customers.
When I picked up the box of goodies, I also picked up our favorite F&E bubbly Montcadi Cava Rose and an F&E pecan pie I haven't tried before.
The best thing about this whole Meal Made Simple is that everything reheats at 375. First in was the roast as it needs an hour. Then the stuffing and the gratin for 25 minutes. I did the carrots in the microwave for 7 minutes.
While everything was heating up, we sipped the Cava. We had Gnarly Head Zinfandel with the meal.
The roast was pure perfection--perfectly medium rare, juicy, tender, and flavorful. The pan juice was perfect as a sauce we didn't really miss the gravy I left behind. (Whoops.) That was easily our favorite part of the meal. We have the seal of approval from Lupe, the best cook in our group, on this one.
Coming in second was the carrots. Just sweet enough and not overly buttery and perfectly cooked. I couldn't have done better myself!
A split decision on the potato gratin. It was super cheesy and delicious fresh out of the oven, but once cold, it felt heavy and too rich. We did a reheat test...aka sticking our second servings in the microwave. Lee liked it still, while it lost me. Amanda also found a few bites that were slightly undercooked.
Another split decision, leaning toward dislike, was the cornbread and sausage stuffing. Amanda found the cornbread "spongy and not in a good way". Lee liked that there was sausage in it. I thought the gravy I left behind would've saved this a little bit as I found the stuffing a little dry. Perhaps I should've reheated it in the microwave, or add a few glugs of chicken stock before putting in the oven. Oh well, next time.
And yes, it really did feed 8 people. 5 hungry girls plus one token male were happily and well fed and we had plenty leftover to feed two more people easily.
Sure, you can totally made a better holiday meal than this. But for being a heat-and-eat feast from a grocery store chain and you only spend an hour sticking things into the oven, the Meal Made Easy is a total dream.
And yes, I just placed my order online for a Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham feast for Christmas Eve. It couldn't have been easier!
You have until December 18 to place your order to have it in time for Christmas. So, get on it!
P.S. Pecan pie was Earthbound. Tasty but not craveable or mind blowing.