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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pancakes

Really wish I could, but as close as it comes to actually working, it just doesn't. Cauliflatkes. Get it?

It's almost an apt word to describe Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pancakes. Almost. So close. It's caulifower. It's a wannabe potato pancake, which is more accurately a latke. It's a cauilfower latke.

But a cauliflatke? It just doesn't work.

Oh well.

Which is too bad, as these cauliflower latkes are incredibly decent. It's nearly shocking. We all know by now how versatile cauliflower can be, and how well it can mimic rice and potatoes...still, let's be honest. You can usually tell if something is cauliflower. If it's not in the feel, it's in the taste. Kinda like how you can sense gluten free goods more times than not, or diet sodas. There's a distinctive differewnce more than times than not.

File these wannabe spudders under "not." If I didn't know these were cauliflower, I would've assumed there were regular potato. The cakes are dense and heavy, with a lot of "build" to them. Granted, they do look a little different, as there's not toasty shredded bits of potatoes here and there, but eyes closed, not sure I'd tell the difference. Even when baked in the oven, as we did, there's a greasy crispiness that makes me wish we woulda deepfried them. I'll have to settle for the gratitude of my arteries.

There's a small taste difference, though, but not due to base matter. Almost every latke I've ever had contained onions in them, and weren't shy about it. No onions here. Instead there's a small amount of Parmesan cheese used as flavor. It's not over the top, but could more paltable for the anti-onion crowd, whoever you are. Weirdos.

Bake them, fry them, eat them straight, top with sour cream, serve with applesauce. Eat at dinner, at celebrations, as a party appetizer...heck even be weird like us and have them for breakfast. Nutritionally speaking, they're a black hole, but this time, less carbs, amirite? It's every bit a latke. These TJ taterless cakes aren't labelled as gluten free but I'm not seeing anything indicated on the ingredients that would have me to expect they're not...correct me if I'm wrong please. You can't say the same about the regular TJ latkes.

Small note: the box of six costs $3.99. That's one of those odd price points that screams neither screaming deal nor complete rip off, which probably means it's fair for all involved...but as much as I like them at $3.99, I'd like them even more at $2.99.

Call them whatever you want. Maybe with enough support "cauliflatkes" could be a thing...but I'm not counting on it. Count this though: double fours.


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pancakes: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Trader Joe's Vanilla & Pretzel and Trader Joe's Coconut & Almond Greek Lowfat Yogurts


Chobani Flips, Fage Crossovers, Yoplait Mix-ins, Siggi's Simple Sides...you know what I'm talking about. They're yogurts that come with their own toppings. Pretty much idiot-proof. Just open up both compartments and dump the side with the mixables into the side with the yogurt. If you can land the toppings in the container and stir them up without spilling anything onto the table or the floor, you've passed the test. Just consume and enjoy. 

I think these products indicate that the yogurt industry is trying to combat the idea that plain yogurt is boring. It certainly can be, but I'm still fine with non-mixable yogurt. Maybe it was all the business little yogurt shops like Yogurtland and Pinkberry were taking away from the mainstay yogurt guys. 

"Oh, you want to PUT STUFF on your yogurt?" said yogurt CEO's, annoyed with their customers for not being a little more brand-loyal. "We hear you loud and clear, friends. Here's yogurt with STUFF you PUT on it. Sheesh."

Now, it's Trader Joe's turn. These were the only two flavors we saw on TJ's shelves so far. If any others have been sighted, let us know in the comments below.

Sonia and I both share our thoughts in this short video review. Sonia gives three stars to the vanilla pretzel offering and four stars to the coconut almond one. I'll throw out three and a half to each.



Trader Joe's Vanilla & Pretzel Lowfat Greek Yogurt: 6.5 out of 10.
Trader Joe's Coconut & Almond Lowfat Greek Yogurt: 7.5 out of 10.



Friday, November 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Turkey Cranberry Meatballs

....somehow it's almost Thanksgiving already! What the what!?!?!

Seems to me that Halloween starts off a verifiable gauntlet of activities and festivities for the fam. Yes, there's the usual Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years stretch...but mix in there Sandy and my's anniversary (almost nine years!), a couple kids' birthdays, our growing tradition of a holiday cookie party, other activities and parties and occasions, along with it growing into the busy season at work, and all along all the normal humdrum and business of day-to-day life...we're busy! And we need to eat, preferably altogether and happily as a family.

Which means I don't really want my kids complaining about whatever meat may be on the table. With that in mind, with Turkey Day coming up too, getting Trader Joe's Turkey Cranberry Meatballs was an easy choice. Who can ever complain about a meatball?

I'm not here. Listen, I know these aren't as good as your Aunt Millie's famous homemade recipe, but for a frozen convenience poultry protein sphere, I'll gladly take them. As they come fully cooked, it's only a few minutes in the oven or microwave that's needed.

The reward for those three nanonseconds worth of active prep? A warm, soft yet appropriately firm meatball that's decidedly lighter than an average beef ball. It's pretty par for the frozen meatball course, with an absolute comfort vibe. But there's a lot more to like here too. There's some pretty decent rosemary in there to really enhance the flavor of the meat with some herbal savoriness. And the little dried cranberries add a nice touch. They're not intrusive from a textural standpoint at all, and definitely add a little "Thanksgiving" to the overall feel.

These turkey treats aren't perfect, though. One scroll through the ingredient list - "mechanically separated turkey." gulp. If you don't what that is somehow, go Google it...not gonna tell ya here, it's a family friendly business we run here. Also, and this is just a suggestion, but meatballs usually incorporate breadcrumbs, right? My grandma took it a step further and used crumbled homemade biscuits. Well, since it's for Turkey Day...why not use some stuffing in there too? That'd literally be almost all of Thanksgiving all rolled up in one morsel, provided that it got tossed around like a football, hollered at about politics, and drenched in gravy as well.

Mmm. Gravy. These do taste better with gravy as I sampled at the local TJ's shop. Interestingly, the dude running the counter advised microwaving instead of baking the balls, so as to retain a little more moisture and not dry them out as much. I prepped one half of our bag each way and to be honest I didn't notice too drastic a difference. Your mileage may vary, though, so there's that.

Sandy and I liked them. The kiddos tolerated them well enough and turned their dinner time ire more towards the brussel sprouts. I'll count that as a win - usually they devour their veggies and slowly whittle our will to let them live by taking four score and seven years to eat a bite of meat. The bag of about 20 meatballs (roughly four or five servings) ran $4.49 locally, so a decent enough of a value for a repeat buy. I'd think they'd work as a dinner or party snack option, so whatever you got going on, these can come alongside. Double 3.5s.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Turkey Cranberry Meatballs: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons