I'm old enough to remember when take-out wasn't a thing – at least not in the semi-rural area I grew up. Getting a meal cooked by someone else involved going to a place, sitting down and being served at a table. It was an investment of time as well as money, so my family didn't do it very often.
As life got busier, restaurants responded by making it easier to enjoy their services, to the point where today, dinner is often "served" in a paper bag passed through the driver's side window of our cars.
Don't get me wrong: I love the wide variety of options take-out food offers, from Asian classics to south-of-the-border favorites. But there are some drawbacks. My still-small-town doesn't have specialty restaurants with ethnic foods I'd really like to try, such as Greek or even Italian. Plus, one always wonders how long one's take-out entrees have lay withering under a warming lamp before being passed on. And am I the only one who kind of misses actually sitting down in front of a plate and silverware to eat?
I was stoked when Tastefully Simple debuted its Better Than Take-Out 10-Meal Kit. It includes recipes and TS products for restaurant-inspired meals that are a steep step up from boxed burgers and bagged burritos. When I unboxed my kit, I quickly decided on my first two meals, featuring dishes I'd have to drive a couple of hundred miles to actually "take out."
Gyro-style Burgers are a Mediterranean spin on the classic patty on a bun. I especially loved the tangy tzatziki dressing, which I slathered on generously. Being notoriously clumsy with my food, I usually worry about drippage – but, ta-da! These burgers are tucked into a handy pita pocket. Of course, you can substitute a regular bun if you prefer, or try wrapping it in a large lettuce leaf if you are watching carbs.
You can serve these burgers with an arugula and feta salad as recommended in the kit, or with Greek Quinoa Salad as a side.
For my next Better Than Take-Out adventure, I fired up the charcoal briquettes to make Garden Veggie Grilled Chicken. (Tastefully Simple's cheese ball mixes, like the Garden Veggie Cheese Ball Mix featured in this recipe, are so versatile; I use them in dips, dressings, marinades and fillings.) Since I sometimes have trouble with grilled chicken getting dry, I marinated the poultry overnight and was amazed at how moist and flavorful it came off the grill.
The Better Than Take-Out 10-Meal Kit recommends Mexican Roasted Zucchini as a side for this dish, but I instead chose another vegetable recipe included in the kit: Corn on the Cob, prepared simply and flavored up with Seasoned Salt. (Hint: Try almost any of Tastefully Simple's seasonings on veggies, such as Garlic Pepper, Citrus Herb or even Ultimate Steak Seasoning.)
I loved my first two forays into the Better Than Take-Out virtual world tour, and am excited to keep exploring. What shall it be next – Garlic Parmesan Shrimp Tacos, or Sweet & Sour Chicken? Garden Veggie Ravioli Bake or Sweet Teriyaki Pork & Broccoli?
Wherever my journey takes me, I know it will be delicious!