Testing a Recipe: Pulled Banana Peel

In this video, I ask the question “Are banana peels edible?” by making pulled banana peel.

Here’s my recipe:
4 banana peels, stems removed, white pith scraped out
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp brown sugar
pinch ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch chili powder
pinch paprika
1/4 cup water
3 shakes liquid smoke
1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Shred banana peels with a fork.
Heat olive oil in pan, add banana peels. Stir to coat banana peels with oil. Add spices, stir for a few seconds until spices become fragrant. Add water.

Cook until banana peel begins to soften.
Add liquid smoke. Continue cooking.

Add your favorite barbecue sauce.

Continue cooking until liquid reduces and banana peels are soft.

Serve with vinegar slaw or pineapple salsa.

Link to the inspiration video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYPXkrWy7iY

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Testing a Gadget: Jiffy Fries

In this video, I test a gadget that purports to make tasty, crisp fries in the microwave.  I also injure myself so badly that I have to see a sports medicine specialist on Tuesday, so…. yeah, that’s a thing that happened.
Here’s the TV advertisement:

Gobble, Meal Subscription Kit Review

Last week, I ordered a box from Gobble. I actually started ordering from Gobble sporadically since November, and it is one of my favorite meal subscription boxes so far. All of the meals can be prepared in less than 20 minutes, and for the most part, they only take one or two pans to prepare.
 

Dish 1: Skillet Eggplant Lentil Moussaka with Greek Salad

My first meal was Skillet Eggplant Lentil Moussaka with Greek Salad. I love moussaka and this was absolutely a slam dunk in flavor, but in interest of complete honesty, my lactose intolerant belly was not fond of the bechamel sauce. That combined with the lentils had some rather unfortunate side effects later that evening and the next morning. I don’t blame Gobble for my poor judgement, but aside from having to sneak out of class, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Dish 2: Pesto Lasagna Rolls with Broccolini & Cherry Tomatoes

My second meal was Pesto Lasagna Rolls with Broccolini & Cherry Tomatoes. I loved the lasagna rolls for their cheese and flavorful pesto, but the side dish was the star of the show. The broccolini was crisp and fresh, and paired with mini-peppers and cherry tomatoes it was delightfully colorful. The red pepper flakes added a subtle touch of heat to the dish that paired surprisingly well with the pesto.
 

Dish 3: Almond-Crusted Barramundi with Arugula and Tomato Olive Relish

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My final meal was Almond-Crusted Barramundi with Arugula and Tomato Olive Relish. I never had barramundi before, but I loved how the almond crust paired with the meaty fish. I’m generally not a fan of green olives, but these were mild enough that I appreciated how their aggressive salty bitterness complimented the fish without overpowering it. The dish was paired with an arugula salad dressed with olive oil and mandarin orange juice both of which were also components in the the sauce for the fish, so the flavors mirrored each other. Overall, this dish was full of strong flavors, but they all worked amazingly well together, and it was by far my favorite dish of the three.
 
Gobble is a little more expensive than the other meal kit delivery services ($79 for three meals of two servings each), but that’s because a lot of the ingredients come prepped already. Subscribers can choose from 9 meals on the base plan, but they can also choose from two premium meals for an additional cost. Other add-ons include proteins (chicken, beef, and fish), breakfasts, soups (I highly recommend the Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Soup), sides, garlic bread, and cookies.
 
The meals from Gobble are wonderfully varied. In the past, I’ve had General Tso’s Cauliflower with Asian Stir-Fry Vegetables & Brown Rice (lovely, but the cauliflower ended up a little too squishy for my taste), Tofu Laksa with Vegetables & Rice Noodles, Pan-Roasted Salmon with Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Herb Butter Pan Sauce, Soyrizo Vegetable Skillet with Brussels Sprouts & Pico de Gallo Salsa (pretty sure I ended up eating the second portion of this for breakfast), North African Swiss Chard & Yam Stew with Wild Rice, Pan-Roasted Salmon with Colorful Veggie Hash & Lemon Tahini Dressing, Roasted Garlic Pesto Salmon with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes & Sautéed Spinach, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Swiss Chard & Pecan Sage Butter, Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Corn & Black Bean Salad, and Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Soup.
Gobble Summary
Ease/clarity of recipes: 9/10
Taste: 10/10
Variety: 10/10
Quality: 10/10
How many recipes would I make again? 2/3 (but only because the moussaka didn’t agree with me.
The Verdict: Amazing.  I have come back to Gobble three times already, and if I could afford it, I would keep going back.  The dishes are varied and quick to make.  I look forward to making these dishes.  Even if I’m exhausted after a 12 hour day, I can manage to gather enough energy to cook for 15-20 minutes, especially when the food is this good.
Overall Rating: A+

Real Eats, meal subscription review

New Meal Subscription Review! I’ve been getting meal subscription boxes off an on for the past two years, but most of them have been ones I’ve already tried. This week, however, I decided to try something new: Real Eats.

Real Eats is a little different from the normal meal subscription service. It’s all boil-in-bag and ready in 6 minutes or less (great for my busy schedule). You just pop the packets in a pot of boiling water to heat them, and voila, you have delicious meal. Another benefit of Real Eats is that you can order single servings of up to 12 different dinners, so if you’re cooking for one, you won’t get bored!

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Like other meal delivery services, the meals come in an insulated box with ice packs. The packaging was fairly standard, but there were no recipe cards since there’s no real cooking.

The major downside is the price of the box. The 4 dinner meal plan is $15 per meal or $60 per week. The cost per meal decreases with the number of meals, so the 6 dinner meal plan (the one I ordered) is $13.50 per meal or $81 per week, and the 12 dinner meal box is $12.50 per meal (or $150 per week). By comparison, the 6 plate plan with Blue Apron and Home Chef is $60. Real Eats also offers breakfasts which range from $6 per meal for 4 meals or $4 per meal for 12 meals.

Dish 1: Mushroom Ragout with Cheesy Polenta and Roasted Carrots

 

 

I was extremely impressed by the meal. The carrots needed a few flakes of salt, but the ragout and polenta were amazing. I wish I had the recipe because I would love to make it again. The sauce was silky smooth and the mushrooms were flavorful. The dish was garnished with marinated tomatoes which added a delightful hit of acid to the dish.

Removing the food from the bags kind of made me feel like I was eating like an astronaut. The downside was squeezing the hot food out of their bags. It was not fun for the fingers.

I don’t think I can understate how much I loved this dish.  It was absolutely perfect.  It was a great meal to start my experience with Real Eats.  It doesn’t look like they change the entire list of menus every week. If I could afford to get this service without the new subscriber discount, I would totally order the mushroom ragout again. It was that good.

Dish 2: Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Root Vegetables and Red Rice

 

This meal wasn’t great. The meatloaf needed some kind of sauce and the rice was undercooked and very bland. Some of the root vegetables were ok, but there was something in there that was extremely bitter. The whole thing just seemed a little incohesive and lackluster, especially compared to the mushroom ragout from Wednesday.

I was especially disappointed because I had been craving meatloaf for ages, but it’s not a dish that I’ve ever made myself, so I’ve been putting off making it myself.

Dish 3: Chicken Ramen

 

It was wonderfully flavorful, if a touch salty. The noodles were broken, but I didn’t mind because they had a great flavor and texture. The chicken was a bit too toothy, but because of the cooking method, it wasn’t dry. It was a perfectly acceptable ramen which helped to soothe the grumpy belly I’ve been suffering with all day.

Dish 4: Miso Salmon with Sesame Rice and Roasted Bok Choy

 

The rice was a little bland and undercooked and the salmon was a little dry and overcooked. I liked the roasted bok choy after I added a touch of salt. Overall, the meal was a little bland. It needed some salt or acid to bring everything together.

Dish 5: Maitake Cod with Mushrooms and Parsnip Puree

 

I don’t know where they’re getting their mushrooms, but they sure do have great mushrooms. I also loved the parsnip puree. The fish was a little mealy and strangely bland. I’m not a huge fan of green olives, but somehow they were the least flavorful olives I have ever tasted.

Dish 6: Honey Soy Salmon with Ginger Carrots and Scallion Brown Rice

 

Again, the fish was overcooked, but I really liked the scallion brown rice. It was pleasantly toothy (but not undercooked) and very flavorful. The ginger carrots needed a little salt and ginger, but they were crisp and flavorful. The salmon was a little overcooked and there was hardly any soy or honey flavor, but of the three fish dishes, this was my favorite.
Real Eats Summary
Ease/clarity of recipes: 10/10 (boil in bag, 3 or 6 minutes – not too much to mess up there)
Taste: 7/10
Variety: 10/10
Quality: 8/10
How many recipes would I make again? 3/6
The Verdict: The mushroom ragout dish was amazing. I want to learn how to make it myself. The turkey meatloaf was awful. The big plus about this service is that it has great variety, and it’s really quick to prepare. It’s better than frozen food, and it only takes a few more minutes to heat than a Lean Cuisine. I really appreciated being able to just pop my meals into a pot of water after a long day of teaching and then working as a diet aide.  The biggest downside was the price. I’d pay $15 for some of these meals in a restaurant, but I probably wouldn’t return for another visit.
Overall Rating: C