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Annie’s organic skillet meals underwhelms panel

Lorie Hutson Food editor

Sorry Annie.

Spokesman-Review food panel members won’t be reaching for the Annie’s Homegrown Organic skillet meals anytime soon.

Tasters found little to like about the dinners, which the organic, vegetarian version of Hamburger Helper. The boxes contain complete meals. Home cooks simply add meat or vegetarian substitutes and water or milk while it simmers on the stove.

Most food panel members said they were surprised to find that the boxes were promising cheese. “Not bad, but you definitely couldn’t taste the cheese,” said Matt Quesnell of the Cheesy Lasagna meal. “Really just pretty unremarkable.”

Larry Inman didn’t have anything nice to say about the lasagna, “I’d have to be pretty hungry to appreciate or even eat this. Flavorless. It is as bland as bland can be.”

Other tasters said they might try to dress up the meals with a few things from the pantry. Nancy Robinson said she might stir in some sour cream to make the lasagna taste more like beef stroganoff. Laura Hollman also said she thought the dish was a stroganoff and not lasagna. It received a two-star rating from the panel.

The Cheddar and Herb Chicken got a slightly better score – two and a half stars – but the panel members really weren’t impressed with the flavors at all.

Laura Hollman was incredulous when she heard the name of the dish. “Cheddar? Herbs? Bring salt, pepper and chili flakes.”

“Pure hospital food,” said Inman.

Andy Hoye weighed in on an equally disappointed note, “Unremarkable in every way.”

Annie’s Homegrown also offers Cheeseburger Macaroni, Chicken Fettucine Alfredo, Creamy Tuna Spirals and Beef Stroganoff.

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar and Herb Chicken

Price: $3.99 for 7.25 ounces. Makes about 5 servings.

Nutrition per 1-cup serving, prepared with 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast: 310 calories, 7 grams fat (4 grams saturated, 21 percent fat calories), 31 grams protein, 30 grams carbohydrate, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber, 460 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • 1/2

Value: • •

Comments: “Nothing to write home about, but could easily be dressed up with things around your kitchen or in the pantry.” – Skip Hubbard

“Way dull, buy something else.” – Andy Hoye

“No flavor, bulk only. Very bland.” – Larry Inman

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheesy Lasagna

Price: $3.99 for 7.25 ounces. Makes about 5 servings.

Nutrition per 1-cup serving, prepared with 1 pound ground beef: 280 calories, 9 grams fat (4 grams saturated, 29 percent fat calories) 23 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrate, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber, 670 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • •

Value: • •

Comments: “I’ve always enjoyed a good meal you could prepare in a dorm room on a hot plate.” — Skip Hubbard

“Any goodness whatsoever is derived from the beef, which the chef added. Nothing special. I thought it was stroganoff.” – Laura Hollman

“I’d have to be pretty hungry to appreciate or even eat this.” – Larry Inman

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