Steel Your Stomachs: Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Pass Is Back

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iStock

Call their salad overdressed and their pasta bland all you want. If there’s one thing Olive Garden could never be accused of, it’s being stingy with their food. From salad to soda, with breadsticks in between, the pseudo-Italian restaurant chain loves nothing more than to modify a menu item with the word “unlimited.” And for $100, Eater reports that 22,000 lucky carb-lovers can spend eight weeks stuffing their faces with as much pasta as their stomachs can handle. That’s right, people: the Never Ending Pasta Pass is back!

On Thursday, September 14, at 2 p.m. ET precisely, the chain will offer 22,000 of its luckiest customers the opportunity to spend the bulk of the fall season gorging themselves on chicken alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, and whatever other al dente dishes strike their fancy. (You pick the pasta, sauce, and toppings.)

As far as the rules go, there aren’t many: passholders can use their golden ticket to dine in gratis between September 25 and November 19, though only one pass can be used per transaction (it will be inscribed with the passholder's name); diners and their guests will get the requisite unlimited soda and other bottomless promises; and you might want to wear your stretchiest pants. Passes will go on sale at PastaPass.com for one hour only (or until they're all gobbled up).

Before you dismiss it as a quick publicity gimmick, consider this: for the past two years, the passes have sold out in one second—yes, one second. The good news this year is that they’ve upped the ante from 21,000 passes to 22,000. They've also added a second option for OG lovers who are willing to shell out twice as much: for $200, 50 people can purchase a Pasta Passport, which will get them all of the aforementioned goodies—plus an eight-day/seven-night trip to Italy for two, with airfare, transportation, hotel, meals, and a lineup of daily activities included. Again, there are only 50 of these available, so you'd better start exercising your fingers and carbo-loading now.

[h/t: Eater]

10 Surprising Uses for Leftover Bananas

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iStock

Bananas are practically the perfect fruit. They’re high in potassium and vitamins. They don’t need to be washed or sliced. They make a great healthy snack, but you can also put them in bread, ice cream, pie, and pancakes. What’s not to love?

Well, there’s one tiny problem—they go bad quickly. Bananas produce a large amount of a gas called ethylene, which causes fruit to ripen faster, meaning that there's a small window to enjoy them. Just because a bunch of bananas is past its prime doesn’t mean they can’t be used, though. Here are a few of the things you can do with ripe bananas.

1. TREAT BUG BITES.

Pressing the inside of a banana peel onto a bite from a mosquito or other insect for a few minutes is a surprisingly simple way to quell itching. In fact, some studies have shown that banana peels can help reduce irritation and inflammation [PDF, PDF]. The use of banana peels to treat inflammation is said to be an ancient Chinese remedy, but people around the world swear (with varying degrees of evidence) by the fruit’s ability to soothe poison ivy rashes, psoriasis, sunburn, and other skin maladies.

2. REMOVE A SPLINTER.

If tweezers aren’t getting that pesky splinter out, try a banana peel instead. Tape a piece of the peel onto the affected area (with the soft, inner side of the peel facing down) and leave it in place for about 10 minutes. The enzymes in the fruit should help to force the splinter out.

3. ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES AND HUMMINGBIRDS.

Once a common sight in the U.S., monarch butterflies are now difficult to spot. Their population has dwindled due to loss of habitat, but you can improve your chances of seeing them by placing an overripe banana out in your garden. They’re just soft and sweet enough for butterflies to enjoy (make sure to remove the bananas before you go to bed, though, or else you'll have animals like raccoons in your garden). You can also place bananas near a hummingbird feeder to attract fruit flies, which the birds feast on.

4. FERTILIZE PLANTS.

While you’re out in the garden feeding the birds and butterflies, give your plants some love, too. When cut-up banana peels are buried, they enrich the soil with nutrients and help nourish plants. You can also wrap a banana peel around a tomato plant to create a natural fertilizer.

5. POLISH LEATHER AND SILVER.

If you’re in need of a quick shoe shine, reach for the fruit bowl. The potassium in bananas make them a great, quick tool for polishing your leather. Simply buff the leather with the inside of a banana peel, and use a cloth to wipe it clean. The same technique can also be used to polish silver (though some recommend blending the banana peels into a paste and putting that on a cloth for polishing).

6. MAKE SMOOTHIES, SANS ICE.

Bananas have long been a staple in smoothies, but what if you have a whole bunch that’s about to go bad? Instead of throwing them out, stick them in the freezer. You can pull one out any time you get a smoothie craving, and since it’s frozen, you won’t even need to add ice.

7. MAKE NATURAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS.

Beauty products don’t have to be expensive. Bananas are a great ingredient in DIY hair treatments and skin exfoliants. The amino and citric acids help protect hair from damage and keep it shiny. There are a few different recipes you can try, some of which combine banana with avocado, yogurt, egg, and other ingredients. Rubbing the inside of a banana peel onto your face (seriously, try it) is also said to brighten your skin, fight acne, and reduce puffiness around your eyes.

8. PREVENT INFLAMED MUSCLES.

A recent study published in the journal PLOS One found that competitive cyclists who had consumed a banana instead of a sugary drink or water had less inflammation following their workout. Although other physicians cite the benefits of consuming bananas post-workout, the sample for this particular study was small—only 20 cyclists—and was funded by Dole Foods (although they had no role in any part of the study), so you might not want to swap out ibuprofen for bananas just yet—especially since the lead author told The New York Times that the banana led to “quite a bit of bloating,” so maybe best to not experiment on race day.

9. REPAIR A SCRATCHED DVD.

CDs and DVDs may be a dying technology, but many people still have a few lying around at home. If you have any discs that are scratched, you can try using toothpaste and banana to salvage them. First, rub toothpaste into the scratches with a cloth. Wipe it off, then rub a piece of banana onto the disc in a circular motion. Do the same thing with the banana peel and clean the disc with window cleaner. Whether or not this trick works will depend on how badly the disc is scratched, but it’s worth a shot!

10. TRY OUT SOME NEW RECIPES.

If a bunch of bananas is too ripe for your liking, try repurposing the fruit. There are hundreds of recipes that call for overripe bananas. The Food Network's Canadian site lists 83 recipes on its website, including chocolate chip banana pancakes, a peanut butter and banana oatmeal smoothie, and slow cooker banana upside down cake.

Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone Uses a $5 Tool to Clean His Grill

Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for Rioja Wines
Tommaso Boddi, Getty Images for Rioja Wines

Every grill master knows that cleaning the grates of a barbecue is an essential step in the cooking process. If you forget to scrub off that caked-on char from your last cookout, any food you slap onto the grill will stick and fall apart when you try to flip it. Plus, all that dirt and grime will be an unwelcome addition to your meal. An easy way to avoid this is to give your grill a proper cleaning before you fire it up. And if you don't have a grill brush in your arsenal, a $5 tool you may already have at home will do just fine.

According to Eater, a regular paint scraper is the preferred grill-cleaning gadget of Curtis Stone. The Australian chef and TV personality is the owner of the restaurant Gwen in Los Angeles, which specializes in prime cuts of meat cooked over an open flame. He could use a professional grill brush if he ever chose to, but he tells Eater that a paint scraper is what he wields at home and in his restaurant.

Most commercial grill brushes come with wire bristles, but according to Stone, the scraping part attached to the top is the only feature that's useful. Not only is a paint scraper simpler, it's also compact enough to fit in a back pocket—a major plus for grillers who are prone to misplacing their cooking implements.

A basic grill brush can cost between $10 and $20, with the fancier versions selling for over $100. A metal paint scraper can be purchased from Amazon for $5.

[h/t Eater]

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