Just Add Cooking + Chef Jeremy Sewall

Spring has come late to Boston this year and has rolled in with more rain clouds than sun. These days are enough to make you want to hide under the blanket all day, let alone meal plan and grocery shop. If this is a familiar sentiment, you should check out Just Add Cooking, a Boston-based meal delivery service.

Just Add Cooking prepares and hand delivers delicious meals to your door—all you add is the cooking! My first experience with Just Add Cooking was back in March and from the get-go I was hooked and excited for my next order.  Partnering with local Boston chef Jeremy Sewall of Island Creek Oyster Bar, Lineage, and Row 34, April’s Just Add Cooking box showcased recipes from Chef Sewall’s new cookbook.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

A recipe from Chef Sewall’s new cookbook, The New England Kitchen, the Roasted Cauliflower Soup was the perfect compliment to a rainy New England week. Not the biggest cauliflower eater, I was apprehensive about this soup when I saw it on the meal plan. That quickly changed as I cooked the complex blend of cauliflower, leeks, potato, and cream. Sautéing the leeks alone filled the house with a fresh aroma!

sauteing leeks

Although a multi-step recipe, making the soup was fairly easy. It was my first time working with leeks but the recipe directions told me exactly what to do. The result? Healthy, hearty, and full of flavor—Chef Sewall’s Roasted Cauliflower Soup was a win!

roasted cauliflower soup

The toast came as bruschetta but I got hungry and ate it while the soup cooked!

Sliders and Gorgonzola Dressed Salad

My boyfriend and I are both meat eaters but have been trying to eat healthy. This made this this pre-portioned beef recipe appealing to us. The sliders offered the taste and flavors we love in a well-balanced protein and veggie-packed dish. The beef for the sliders was fresh and beautiful, if you’re comfortable saying that about meat.

While the recipe was relatively easy to make, it presented a bit of a challenge because the shredder and/or grater it called for had recently broken in our move. Thankfully I had a food processor to use which allowed the recipe to be cooked in full and thoroughly enjoyed! My boyfriend LOVED this meal and quickly gobbled up seconds!

sliders with gorgonzola just add cooking

Cod with Broccoli and Orange

I usually don’t make fish at home, since our city apartment doesn’t have room for fancy kitchen contraptions like a meat thermometer that fish recipes often call for, so this cod dish was new for me. I was half excited to make fish and half nervous that I was going to make myself sick. Thankfully, the recipe directions provided by Just Add Cooking made this dish a success, even without an internal temperature reader.

The cod was delicious and a great complement to the pearl couscous and fresh broccoli. The panko sprinkle added the perfect touch of crunch and color to this healthy meal! Best of all, this dish gave me confidence in my fish-cooking skills!

just add cooking orange cod and broccoli

The convenience that Just Add Cooking offers is a great compliment to busy lives and unpredictable New England weather. Looking for an easier way to meal plan? Just Add Cooking is offering a deal for new customers. Sign up with code SASSY and you can get your first no-commitment Just Add Cooking box for just $39.

Note: I received this box free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Weekend Trip: Wine, Beer, and Food in Hampshire County Massachusetts

When people think of Massachusetts, they usually think of Boston, the eastern epicenter of the state. But there’s an “other side” of Massachusetts that they’re missing out on: Hampshire County in Western Massachusetts.

A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to visit Hampshire County, Massachusetts with my boyfriend. We spent two days and one night exploring the towns of Northampton, Southampton, and Easthampton. Taking ourselves out of the guidebooks, we experienced Hampshire County the way that locals do and had a fun-filled weekend at the best wineries, breweries, and restaurants in the area.

Getting to Hampshire County, Massachusetts

Hampshire County is less than 2 hours from Boston. Just north of Springfield, it’s a quick and easy drive from Boston or NYC, making the area perfect for a weekend getaway. If you don’t have a car, the area is also accessible by bus, train, and air—Bradley International Airport is about a half hour away.

Small Oven Bakery Picnic Lunch at Black Birch Vineyard

We started our weekend off by picking up a picnic lunch at Small Oven Bakery, a quaint woman-owned bakery in Easthampton. Co-owners Amanda and Julie opened Small Oven Bakery just 2 years ago and have quickly become a local favorite.

We arrived at noon to a packed house and were greeted warmed by Julie who was packing up our lunch. While Julie prepped our lunch, my boyfriend and I chatted with Amanda for a few minutes over coffee about our love for all things bakery and small business related.

small oven bakery easthampton

With our picnic lunch packed, we hit the road and drove to the beautiful Black Birch Vineyard a few minutes down the road. The weather was perfect—warm and breezy with bright sunshine. Owner Mary Hamel greeted us and encouraged us to relax and enjoy our food on the picnic benches before our wine tasting.

black birch vineyard western massachusetts

The winery doesn’t serve food so visitors can bring their own to eat on the picnic benches and Adirondack chairs out back. The atmosphere is very relaxing and family friendly. Our fellow wine tasters included a family with a baby, a ladies birthday celebration, and a group of friend with dogs.

On a picnic bench overlooking the vines my boyfriend and I gobbled down our lunch from Small Oven Bakery—an open faced Roasted Cippollini and Radicchio baguette, a Boston Brisket sandwich, and a chocolate mint cake.

small oven bakery easthampton

After stuffing our faces, we headed into the winery, a converted barn with an authentic rustic feel. We tasted through, making sure to sip and dump because we were driving. Our favorites included the steel casked Chardonnay, Riesling, and 2013 Pinot Noir.

black birch winery western massachusetts

All of the wines were good but I was especially impressed by the Chardonnay, as I’m not usually a fan of the varietal. I enjoyed it so much I purchased two bottles to take home! Both Black Birch Vineyard and Small Oven Bakery were recently voted as The Valley Advocate’s Best of 2016.

black birch vineyard western massachusetts

Abandoned Building Brewery

We left Black Birch Vineyard and drove to Northampton where we were staying for the night so that we could drop off the car before heading to the breweries. Since we’re both big beer drinkers, my boyfriend and I called an Uber to take us safety to Abandoned Building Brewery, our next destination.

abandoned building brewery easthampton massachusetts

The aptly named Abandoned Building Brewery is situated in an abandoned building along the Easthampton Rail Trail. Windowless with swagged lights, mismatched couches, and board games, there’s a nostalgic feel to the brewery.  The comforting and homey space took me back to my high school college days of drinking in a friend’s basement.

abandoned building brewery craft beer flight

Kimaya, an staff member who has worked at the brewery since it opened, greeted us with two flights which we brought to the seating area. Seating is limited which encourages a communal experience with both the people and dogs visiting the brewery. We sat and chatted with some local residents while drinking our flights.

abandoned building brewery craft beer

While the company was great, the beer was even better! Brewer and owner Matt Tarlecki crafts the ales using hops from the brewery’s own hop field and malts from Massachusetts’s only malt house in nearby Hadley. My favorites were the Pennhurst Pale Ale and the Dirty Girl IPA and my boyfriend especially enjoyed the Nightshade Stout.

If you’re in town on May 7th, Abandoned Building Brewery is celebrating their second anniversary with live music, food trucks, and an outdoor beer garden—an event not to be missed!

New City Brewery

Our next stop was at the close by New City Brewery which sits literally next door to Abandoned Building Brewery. The breweries are next to each other along the Easthampton Rail Trail which makes for a comprehensive beer tasting bike ride. We saw quite a few cyclists who popped in for a pint with their pups. Although we don’t have a dog ourselves, we loved that so many places were dog friendly!

Open since 2013, New City Brewery is best known for its Jamaican style ginger beer crafted by brewmaster Sam Dibble but also offers regular beers. Devin, one of the four co-owners, welcomed us with open arms and two flights—one flight of New City’s beers and a second mimosa flight made with the ginger beer. As someone who loves ginger beer and mimosas, I was in heaven with the mimosa flight!

new city brewery western massachusetts

Like it’s next door neighbor, New City was hopping on the beautiful Saturday and appeared to be setting up for live music. With large windows, open space, and natural light, New City Brewery exudes a friendly hipster vibe—the good looking men behind the bar don’t hurt either.

new city brewery western massachusetts

Hotel Northampton

We caught an Uber back and checked into Hotel Northampton, our home for the night. Built in 1927, Hotel Northampton is a beautiful red brick building in the heart of town.

There was a platter of fresh fruit, cheese, and sparkling water waiting in our room when we arrived. A handwritten note and personal introduction from Ruby, the head of marketing and public relations for the hotel, made us feel very welcome.

hotel northampton massachusetts

Although historic with a traditional American feel, Hotel Northampton has the amenities and comforts of a modern hotel. Everything about the hotel was great—updated and spacious rooms with natural light, comfortable beds, a delicious breakfast, and free WiFi.

hotel northampton western massachusetts

Northampton Brewery

After a long day of visiting drinking establishments, we were more than ready for dinner at the Northampton Brewery. A quick walk from Hotel Northampton, the Northampton Brewery is New England’s oldest operating brewpub, serving up American style food and delicious beers.

northampton brewery western massachusetts

Like many small businesses in New England, Northampton Brewery was family owned and operated by siblings Janet and Peter Egelston and has ties to New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose Brewing Company. Not surprising, the beers were delicious! Along with nachos, a pulled pork sandwich, and pizza, my boyfriend and I enjoyed the Blue Boots IPA and Conundrum beers.

northampton brewery western massachusetts

Tunnel Bar

After dinner we checked out the infamous Tunnel Bar, voted by Buzzfeed as one of the top places to drink before you die. Tunnel Bar is a former train passenger tunnel from 1896, making for a cool underground experience.

tunnel bar northampton western massachusetts

Photo courtesy of Tunnel Bar

The long and narrow cocktail lounge was packed but the martinis were worth the wait.  It was a long day so after Tunnel Bar we retired to Hotel Northampton for some much needed rest.

Sylvester’s Restaurant

The next morning my boyfriend and I woke up refreshed and ravenous. We grabbed some coffee at the hotel and headed over to Sylvester’s Restaurant. Located in the house of Sylvester Graham, the inventor of the graham cracker, Sylvester’s Restaurant is a Northampton landmark and has been voted Best Breakfast and Brunch in Western Massachusetts for years.

sylvesters restaurant northampton massachusetts

We feasted on the Benedict Sly’s style, the banana Nutella French toast, and a homemade pop-tart style pastry that was to die for. Known for their eggs benedict dishes, the Sly style Benedict was delicious and almost more than I could eat. My boyfriend and I shared both dishes and still had leftovers to take home!

best brunch western massachusetts

Around Northampton

Stuffed from breakfast, we walked off our food around town. Home to Smith College and four others nearby, Northampton is a quintessential college town. Walking around instantly brought me back to my own college days in Madison, Wisconsin. Northampton reminded me a lot of Madison and I felt at home amongst the tall trees, beautiful buildings, hippie shops, and tiny cafés.

downtown northampton massachusetts

Aside from its college charm, Northampton boasts a small town vibe that makes you feel like you belong.  Everywhere we went, the people were friendly, welcoming, and excited to share their town with visitors.

Our weekend in Hampshire County was a wonderful break from the hustle of life and a good reminder that there’s more to Massachusetts than Boston. While the trip was full of adventure, there’s much more to explore and we can’t wait to go back to Hampshire County. If you’re looking for a romantic weekend away, a fun trip with friends, or a family-friendly place to explore, check out Hampshire County, the “other side of Massachusetts.”

Disclosure: This trip was hosted by the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council and the local businesses mentioned in this post. Although sponsored, all opinions are my own.

Just Add Cooking Review

March is one of those months that’s full of busy things. No matter the year, despite a lack of major holidays, March is always a jam-packed month. This March I found myself in the midst of searching for a new apartment, signing a lease, and moving within two weeks! Needless to say it was a stressful month which made it the perfect time for Just Add Cooking, a Boston-based meal prep delivery service that I had been invited to try.

For those who don’t know about it, Just Add Cooking is a no-commitment Boston-based subscription service that lets you pick your weekly meals for 2 or 4 people and delivers the ingredients to your home. A big fan of meal prep, Just Add Cooking takes the tedious tasks of planning, shopping, and schlepping your groceries home and delivers it right on your doorstep!

I decided to order the first of four offered Just Add Cooking boxes for the week my boyfriend and I moved into our  new apartment. I knew with the hectic move that the last thing we’d want to do is shop for food. I placed my order online on a Wednesday, choosing from 7 delicious looking options. The website ordering was easy to do and I appreciated how the user is shown all of the ingredients, cooking instructions, and nutritional information before ordering—a huge perk for those watching their weight or looking out for allergies. I chose three Asian-inspired meals: Pad Thai, Beef Teriyaki, and Thai Larb (a pork lettuce wrap recipe).

just add cooking box

Just Add Cooking hand-delivered the box of meals to our new apartment on Sunday, giving us the courtesy of a telephone call to let us know the order was delivered and a text message because I ignored the unknown number! Unlike other services that use FedEx or UPS to deliver their boxes, Just Add Cooking is able to hand-deliver theirs because they’re based locally, which provided a unique personal touch.  I’m sensitive about waste and was pleased to discover that in addition to a recyclable box, the minimal packaging was all reusable and/or recyclable, including the compostable cooling bag that kept the meats and veggies cool.

Thrilled to eat something other than takeout, my boyfriend and I dove into the box, pulling out the ingredients like it was Christmas morning. Everything was so fresh and because the company is based in Boston, all of the ingredients are locally sourced from farms in New England. I’m a big supporter of small businesses and it felt good making meals with ingredients from local farms.

chopping scallions

Shrimp Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of those meals that I always order when I’m out at a restaurant but never make at home because it look too complicated. I was surprised when I realized how easy Pad Thai was to make, thanks to Just Add Cooking’s easy to follow recipe. In what felt like no time at all, the recipe was complete and my boyfriend and I were gulping down the delicious Shrimp Pad Thai. Unlike restaurants that are often stingy on the shrimp, we found ourselves getting shrimp in every tasty bite. This meal was a definite win!

just add cooking pad thai

Beef Teriyaki

I’m not usually big on pre-made teriyaki because of the high sugar and sodium content and was pleased to discover that this Beef Teriyaki recipe included the ingredients to make the teriyaki sauce yourself, rather than provided a packaged sauce. The rice made this recipe a bit of a longer one to make, but it was well worth the wait. The high quality beef was easy to cook and had great flavor. Paired with white rice and fresh cucumbers, this recipe was a healthy spin on a usually calorie-laden dish.

beef teriyaki

Thai Larb

I have minimal experience cooking pork so I was nervous at first for the Thai Larb pork lettuce wrap dinner. Pork has a reputation of being bland but this tangy and spicy dish was anything but. Like the other two recipes, Thai Larb was easy to make and provided the added benefit of modifications if you’re sensitive to spicy foods or cilantro. My favorite thing about this recipe was the crunch. I love a good crunch and between the bean sprouts and fresh lettuce leaves, I was in heaven with this lip-smacking dish.

thai larb

Courtesy of Just Add Cooking

I loved the convenience that Just Add Cooking offers to busy professionals and it seems like I’m not the only one—the company was recently voted Boston’s Best by the Improper Bostonian! If you’re looking for a way to simplify your busy life, I highly recommend Just Add Cooking.

To add to the awesomeness,  Just Add Cooking is offering a great deal for new customers. Sign up with code SASSY and you can get your first no-commitment Just Add Cooking box for just $39. Click here to sign up for a free account and pick your recipes!

Note: I received this box free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.