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Front Page - Friday, July 24, 2015

Kay’s Cooking Corner

The last of the mail-order meals

If you missed my previous columns on mail-order meals, I wrote about HelloFresh.com and BlueApron.com. The last mail-order meal “personal opinion” will be this one from Plated.com.

On these websites, a person can order the ingredients for meals (you have to do the cooking yourself) for two or more people, and you can choose from a selection of menus, provided you chose early enough. If not, you have to pay for what they are sending that week. I want to emphasize again that these are subscription based, and you will receive meals on a regular basis until you cancel them, which I have done. So, caveat emptor!

I received my Plated order on schedule but I had a problem with it: It was 8:30 p.m. when I went to lock the front door and turn on the porch light. There I saw the box of food sitting in the corner of my front porch. I don’t know when it arrived, or how long it had been sitting there.

The company sends an email informing you that your order is on the way, along with a tracking number. Be sure to open it to check the arrival date so you won’t be surprised like me. (I did not open that email.) Luckily there were plenty of ice packs in it, and the food was still cold.

As for the menus, some of the meals have ingredients that are not ordinary for a family meal, so if you have fussy eaters, you might be making two separate dinners.

The one dinner from Plated I’ve made so far included a salad made from a thinly sliced Asian pear, chopped basil, Radicchio, and butter lettuce with a sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and agave dressing. It was, ummm, vibrant, to say the least. I liked it well enough, but not enough to make it again. I know some folks that would really enjoy it, and then there are some (like hubby) that had to have a normal, everyday green salad.

The meal also had a healthy serving of steak to pan fry in a tastysriracha marinade. It was good, and both of us liked it, but there were problems.

The steak didn’t look to be enough for two people, so I weighed it, and as it turned out, it weighed 10 ounces – so looks were deceiving. It was small but quite thick, which proved to be a problem.

The instructions said to marinate the steak for 15-20 minutes, then skillet fry it in canola oil. It instructed you to get the oil to “just smoking,” then add the steak to the skillet. I cannot tell you how much of a mess this created. I had oil splattered all over the place. Also, it said to cook for two minutes on one side, then flip and pour the reserved marinade over the top, which created more splattering! It made the biggest mess of the stove and backsplash.

I suppose if you’re in a professional restaurant-type kitchen, it makes no difference how much splattering is going on, but as far as I’m concerned, there was too much of it in my kitchen.

Secondly, I’ve already mentioned how thick the steak was; well, the instructions said to cook to medium rare: two to three minutes on one side, then flip and fry two to three minutes more, or to until 145 degrees. To get this thick steak to 145 degrees F was impossible; it was getting way to crusty on the bottom. I finally took it off the stove, sliced it into thin strips, and slightly “nuked” it to get it to medium rare.

The steak and salad was all there was to this meal; however, I have to say that it had a fruit, meat, and a vegetable, so I guess this was nutritionally correct. Just not what we’re accustomed to eating. I usually prepare a green vegetable, meat, a fruit, and a starch (usually bread) for our meals. A salad and meat just isn’t quite enough – unless we’re on a diet. I warmed-up some leftover mac-and-cheese for hubby.

As I said in a previous column, these are great for some people in certain situations, and they could be great time-savers. I’ve had a few emails from some of my readers who really enjoy the meals. They just don’t fit my family.

So, the recipe this week is for a dinner you can make with the kids, and one they’ll love: Easy BBQ Chicken Kabobs.

One of my granddaughters loves barbecue chicken, as you can see in the picture, and these kabobs are a sure winner. Also, while grilling the kabobs, throw on some corn-on-the-cob or zucchini squash and mushrooms tossed with Lowery’s seasoning salt. Now that’s a meal!

Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.  

Easy BBQ Chicken Kabobs

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces

2 cups fresh pineapple chunks

1 each red and green pepper, cut into bite-size pieces

1/3 cup barbecue sauce

3 tablespoons orange juice

While grill is heating, thread chicken alternately with pineapple and peppers onto long skewers. Mix barbecue sauce and juice; brush evenly onto kabobs, reserving some sauce to use while grilling.

Grill eight to 10 minutes, or until chicken is done, turning and brushing occasionally with sauce.