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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Trader Joe's Creamed Greens

It's kind of ironic and counterintuitive, but Thanksgiving Day and the days surrounding it produce some of the lowest numbers for us on this blog as far as traffic is concerned. You might think that what is arguably the most food-centric day of the year would generate greater interest in food blogs and such, but you'd be wrong.

I mean, it's great that people are apparently paying attention to their families and traveling and preparing for the big day rather than fussing about our silly little grocery store blog. Doesn't bother me a bit. And now that I think about it, it might be slightly disturbing if the reverse were true.

But we're heading into not only the biggest and best family + food holiday of the year, but immediately after, we dive headlong into the Christmas season. At least around our house, turkeys and gourds will be replaced by fat men in red suits and reindeer by the end of this long weekend. So I found it appropriate to look at a product that might find its way into either a Thanksgiving meal or a Christmas meal. It's nothing quite as exciting as a pie or a cake, but hey, every big holiday meal needs to at least pretend that there's been an attempt to provide greens and veggies. So if the creamed corn side dish isn't looking adequate in the way of plant-based roughage, here's another item to consider.


Trader Joe's Creamed Greens with Brussels Sprouts, Kale, & Parmesan Cheese. In addition to being the only Trader Joe's product I've ever seen that includes the Oxford comma before an ampersand in its extended title, it's also one of the only dishes that takes not one, but two of the most hated vegetables in existence and attempts to turn them into calorific comfort foods...with moderate success, I might add.

The flavor is somewhere between a spinach dip and a green bean casserole. There's a heavy, creamy, salty, savory vibe. It tastes quite strongly of parmesan cheese and onions, but the kale and Brussels sprouts are far from wanting in the mixture. That is, your fork will be full of actual greens with what appears to be a medium-thick glaze of cheesy creaminess. The overall effect is a nice hearty veggie flavor with a major comfort food component.

My biggest and possibly only complaint is that certain bits seemed stringy. I'm guessing that the kale is mostly to blame for the stringiness, although sprouts can be a little tough and pulpy, too. There seemed to be "veins" of vegetable matter that didn't want to melt in the mouth quite like the rest of the dish did. Not every bite was stringy, and even the ones that were didn't stop me from plowing through my share of this otherwise smooth side. Sonia didn't seem to mind the texture of the creamed greens at all.

$4.99 for the one pound package. I'd eat this again alongside a traditional holiday meal. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

p.s. It works as a chip dip, too.

Three and a half stars from this guy. Four full stars from Sonia. 

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Trader Joe's Italian Style Soffrito Seasoning Blend

Some days are just potato soup days, aren't they?

This past Sunday was. First of all, it was a Sunday. Also: cool, rainy, all not-sure-if-November-or-March outside (in so many ways, actually). The kinda day that just made you want to curl up with a warm blanket and cats and books and movies while the crockpot did its thing all day to bring forth a warm, comforting meal that goes down easy.

One of the best things about potato soup is: you can make it taste however you want with toppings and mix-ins. In my opinion you gotta go with bacon, cheese and green onion at the very least, but then something else is needed. Something to give it a little more flavor, a little pizzazz, a little je ne sais quoi. Could go hot sauce or salsa, sure, but sometimes, that's not what I'm looking for.

Turns out it was Trader Joe's Italian Style Soffrito Seasoning Blend. 

Look at this stuff. It's beautiful. It looks very fancy and refined, what, with all the different rustic colors and flakes and crinkles all mixed up. That's just how it looks - but also, how it smells? Wow. "Aromatic" is an understatement. Crack it open and this warm, inviting scent of herbs and spices wafts everywhere. I kinda want to leave a jar open somewhere as an air freshener. If I were to open a fancy Italian restaurant, I think I'd pipe in the scent from this somehow to the dining room - it'd be an automatic five star review. 

Inspired by the "holy trinity" of onions, carrots and celery (or as the French would say, mirepoix), the Italian soffrito seasoning is very evocative of those elements without actually featuring carrots or celery. There's a lot of onion, for sure, which adds a little punch and really drives the overall flavor, but the rest of the ingredients like garlic or rosemary or crushed red pepper taste more like the seasonings one could put on those veggies instead of the actual veggies. Which works, because that's what one tastes anyway from a mirepoix/soffrito/onions, carrots and celery. I really wish we Americans had a cool name for all that. Still, a little dried carrot and celery salt could have been used, just to pay proper homage, but I'm not going to quibble too much and just run with it. It's just too good, with herbal warmth, the right amount of salt (neither too much nor too little), the smallest of kicks 

We love it in our house and have used in various ways already, not just on potato soup. Top of pizza? Check. Eggs? Yup. Grabbing a little pinch here and there? Absolutely. With holiday and soup season in full swing, I can see this in more soups, sauces, dishes like stuffing, atop a roast, most anything else...as always if you have ideas or favorite implementations please share! And only like 4 bucks max for an ample sized jar - I just bought a regular little guy of seasoning salt at a regular grocery store for nearly that much, so the price is definitely a good deal for what it is. 

Speaking of fours, we're gonna hit it with two of them and add a little more, because that's what you're gonna be doing once you give this a try. Boom.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Italian Style Soffrito Seasoning Blend: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons




 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Trader Joe's Cranberry Orange Relish


Apparently there are some cran-haters out there, but I ain't one of 'em. I love me some cranberries. Especially this time of year. Oh how I love the sweet-tartness, the tang, the taste of cranberries. But then, hmmm, it occurs to me that I've never eaten an actual cranberry. I really don't think I've ever had one in my life. I mean, I've had "craisins," which are dried cranberry raisin-esque thingies. And also, apparently, that name is trademarked by Ocean Spray, so it's actually Craisins®. Please don't sue us, Ocean Spray.

I've had cranberry sauce, cranberry jam, cranberry juice, cranberry juice mixed with literally every other kind of fruit juice, and cranberries baked into all sorts of confections. But why on earth haven't I ever eaten a plump, juicy cranberry straight off the vine...? Bush...? Tree...? I don't even know where cranberries grow.


Oh well. It may be some time before I eat an actual whole cranberry in its natural state, but thanks to long-time reader and commenter NJ-to-TX, I was recently reminded of this product, which I'd heard about before, but never really paid much attention to—and lemme tell ya' it's crantastic. It's been around Trader Joe's for a long, long time. And, as is usually the case with such a product, that's a testament to its scrumptiousness.

This stuff is sweet. It's very sweet. It's actually a bit sweeter than traditional cranberry sauce by my estimation, and you'd expect it to be so with 25g of sugar per serving. There's plenty of tartness, too, to make it a little less like a candy and more like a condiment.

There are exactly three ingredients: cranberries, sugar, and oranges. I'm a little surprised sugar isn't the number one ingredient, but I guess cranberries are a little sweet on their own. There's definitely more cranberry flavor, while the citrus kick of the orange is more subtle and understated. It's a beautiful balance of the constituent flavors.


Channeling my ten-year-old self that zeroed in on cranberry sauce over any other dish on the Thanksgiving Day table, I took bite after bite straight out of tub upon first opening it. Sonia was less enthused to consume it plain, and like a real adult, prefers it on turkey, tofurkey, stuffing, and/or mashed potatoes. It does go VERY well with all of those things, but I'd get creative and try it in pies, as a dip for chicken nuggets, or whatever ridiculous combo pops into my foodie-hack brain at the moment.

If you haven't checked it out, I recommend trying this in place of traditional cranberry sauce at your Turkey Day meal. $3.49 for the 6 serving tub. Four and a half stars from me. Three and a half from Sonia.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trader Joe's Cornbread Bites

Just thought we'd revisit this great review! 'Tis the season to be thankful! 

Cornbread bites feel Thanksgivingy enough. I mean, we had some with our Turkey Day meal, and they were hearty enough, heavy enough to pair up with Turkey-Less Turkey and stuffing—indulgent enough to be one of my favorite elements of the entire meal.

Sonia's parents, my in-laws or "mi suegros" en espaƱol, generally don't celebrate major holidays like Christmas and Easter since their roots are considered pagan. It's a pentecostal thing. They make an exception for Thanksgiving, though, since it's about giving thanks. How appropriate that these appetizers bring traditional American delights like cornbread together with serrano chiles, native to Mexico. It's a great match, in my opinion.

Trader Joe's Cornbread Bites are super cheesy, full of delicious pepper jack. There's a moderate amount of heat, as well as a moderate amount of sweetness.

Southern cornbread purists might be a little disappointed. I've known Southerners to go on rants about how tea has to always be sweet and cornbread must never be so. Fortunately, I'm a Yankee boy and we had our Thanksgiving in the northern midwest this year, so we didn't hear much in the way of dissenting opinions about this particular sweetened cornbread.


Truth be told, the cornbread isn't really the main attraction here. The shells are a little thinner than I would have assumed. Many bites have more cheese and pepper than cornbread by my estimation, although that does vary from piece to piece, as some of the bites had more cheese leak out than others.

That might be my biggest complaint. The appetizers were all frumpy looking when they came out of the oven, cheese piled outside the apps. They looked nothing like the pic on the box, and they weren't particularly crispy when baked for exactly 15 minutes at 400°.


It's a minor complaint, though. They still tasted great. Cornbread + cheese + peppers = scrumptious. Twelve bites for $3.99. Almost everyone at our Thanksgiving feast agreed, these are a thumbs up—probably in the ballpark of four stars a piece out of five for Trader Joe's Cornbread Bites with Pepper Jack Cheese and Serrano Chile Peppers from this guy. 

Sonia was slightly less enthused, stating "I don't really like cornbread that much." I think it's because she waited too long to try her bites, and she had to nuke them to make them warm again. I tried a bit of her microwave-reheated ones, and they weren't even close to as good as the ones straight from the oven. She wanted to give them only three stars, but the rest of us think that's a bit too low—so three and a half, I guess.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Trader Joe's Spicy Chakri Mix

 
During my freshman year of college, Aerosmith released their Nine Lives album. My dormitory roomie, whom I'd known since high school, and his then girlfriend, were big fans. So they purchased the CD shortly after its release. On it was a track entitled "Taste of India." The opening lines of it went: 

"Gotta love the sweet taste of India. Lingers on the tip of my tongue." 

Like a good Christian roommate, my old friend changed the lyrics to "Gotta love the sweet taste of Nathan's mom" and would sing it that way when it would play on his boombox in our very tiny dorm room. We'd always have a laugh together about the lyric swap, as "your mom" jokes were in vogue at the time. 

But none of us were well-versed when it came to actual Indian food back then. In subsequent years, walking the streets of Los Angeles and Philadelphia with a bag of curry or channa masala take-out in my hand, my friends would often hear me mumbling "Gotta love the sweet taste of Nathan's mom" under my breath and would ask what the heck I was singing.


I gotta give it to Trader Joe's for furthering my experience with Indian food. Most of their Indian selections aren't quite restaurant quality in my opinion, but they're close enough that when you consider price and convenience, they're still a must-try in most cases.

This snack bag is a little different from the other Indian selections I've had in that it's a dry snack, rather than a saucy meal with veggies, rice, and tofu or meat. It has a spice blend that's similar to a lot of other Indian treats—curry leaves, turmeric powder, and rosemary.

In some ways, it's not a far cry from a Tex-Mex snack mix. The smell is pretty similar and the heat level is comparable, also both styles are super crunchy. There are tiny balls, skinny sticks, peanuts, and those big long pieces that look like the spines of small animals, and each element is super crispy. Looks like all the pieces are made of chickpeas and/or rice, other than the peanuts, of course. I really do wish the peanuts were larger and more plentiful. The peanuts on the cover art are huge compared to the tiny ones I found in my mix.


Other than that, not too many complaints. It's a convenient, exotic snack that's got a decent flavor and a little spicy kick. It would be great on salads or maybe even mixed in with other Indian dishes. I'd even try it with other international cuisines. I'm thinking this would be great on top of Pad Thai or even in wonton soup...? 

It's salty, nutty, and moderately oily. I still think it would be much stronger with more peanuts. But hey, I can always add my own, right? $2.99 for the 7oz. bag. Three and a half stars from me. Four from Sonia.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Trader Joe's Gobbler Quesadilla

Ever hear of the Gobblerito?

It's legendary out here in the Pittsburgh area. Maybe there's something similar wherever you are, but here, every fall, at the local chain Mad Mex, it's officially Gobblerito season. it's literally Thanksgiving dinner as a burrito - turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, black beans and corn all wrapped up and served with gravy and cranberry. Somehow, all my life I've avoided trying one until just a few weeks ago, and I am lost in the awareness of the error of my ways. It's amazing. It's huge. It's comforting.  

And it's a major dietary depth charge. It's so bad for you it practically makes Trader Joe's Gobbler Quesadilla look like health food. 

Granted, the TJ turkeydilla is somewhat of a lighter take. No taters. No gravy. Still plenty of turkey of the roasted variety - not quite as good as a fresh bird, but not dry and insipid either. It passes muster, for sure. Stuck some kale in there, too. That's healthy, although I'm pretty sure I've never seen kale on my Thanksgiving table. But it works. A couple tart cranberries sprinkled in add to the freshness and give a little "flavor sparkle" and seem at home. And naturally it's all held together with a big ol' flour tortilla, with neither too much nor too little tortilla or filling to make it all work

The two other ingredients, though, are worth more insight. First off, the butternut squash. My lovely bride loves butter nut squash while I'm much more ambivalent towards it. We decided to share a quesadilla for lunch the other day, and after just one bite, she unwrapped the whole thing and plinko'ed out every bit of squash she could. Never, in all my years...I took a bite, expecting some shenanigans of the crookneck pumpkin variety. None, really. But my wife? Couldn't stand it. "it...It just doesn't work here, with everything else," she said. With a little unpacking, it seemed that maybe the fibrous nature of the mini chunks weren't the hoped-for mouthfeel, and perhaps some mashed or squashed squash would have been a better option. Taste was good, feel was off. Make of that as you will.

Also: mozzarella. I'm a bit torn on this. I can see why mozzarella was chosen - it is, after all, a quesadilla so a gob of melty oozy cheese is a must, and mozzarella is always on call and ready to go for that kinda job But the rest of the ingredients seemed to demand something sharper and more robust, perhaps like a decent cheddar or even gouda. Some mozzarella would still be welcome, or heck, keep the mozz as is and sprinkle in some quality parm shavings to pique it up - but mozzarella as the only cheese, when not really jiving with the rest of the ingredients in a way that makes Thanksgiving sense, just seemed a bit too haphazard and uninspired. 

That being, said, in all, the turkey quesadilla made a good enough lunch which we may or may not repeat buy. Costs $4.49 (way less than a Gobblerito!) which puts it in the right kind of price range for a quick grab, easy, filling meal. Matching 3.5s from us!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gobbler Quesadilla: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Trader Joe's Apple Cider Fruit Spread

Exactly 400 years ago today, the Mayflower arrived at what is now known as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims had been at sea for 66 days. They weathered heavy storms between England and the New World, many had been severely ill during their journey, and one sailor even died. They nearly lost one of their main masts but were able to repair it as they traveled.

Their first winter in America was even more harsh than their voyage across the Atlantic. Nearly half of all the Pilgrims perished in the next few months. The First Thanksgiving wouldn't take place until over a year after their first landing. By then they had food, shelter, and Native American friends, but the road to that point was a long and bumpy one. I was originally going to segue with something about apples, but turns out apples didn't even exist in North America at the time. So I'll go with this: the point is that they never gave up, not even in the darkest winter.

Likewise, Trader Joe's never gave up on this product—or, more precisely, its predecessor, the Apple Cider Jam. I thought it seemed popular enough and it was definitely good enough, but Trader Joe's saw fit to rename, repackage, and reformulate it, resulting in the fruit spread you see here. It could be they just went with a different supplier, but who knows? Honestly, who cares? Because this version is at least as good as the last.


At first glance, the spread seems to have virtually identical ingredients to the jam. But upon closer inspection, we see that the sugar is now "organic cane sugar." Okay, that's good. There's "apple juice" in this one, rather than "cider" in its predecessor. Hmm, weird. But if anything, I think it makes this iteration just a hint sweeter. Also, this version actually lists "cinnamon, mace (not like pepper spray) cloves, ginger, coriander, allspice, and cardamom" rather than simply the mysterious and vague "spices" noted in the older version. It's a great spice blend to complement the sweetness, not overpowering at all, but festive and fall-ish.

It could be my imagination, but I think the apple chunks here are more angular and irregular than the jam version. It was almost as if the chunks were all the same size and somewhat cubicle shaped before, while these are more random. It feels like someone cut these apple chunks by hand while the other chunks felt like they were diced by a machine.


Like the original, this one is great on toast with cream cheese, plain yogurt, waffles, as a filling for a pie, or as a baste for poultry—I'd totally try it on a Thanksgiving turkey. We even used it as a marmalade type sauce for fried butterfly shrimp and we both loved it. At $3.49, this one's a tad cheaper and it's still the same size jar (12oz).

Four and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Trader Joe's Everything but the Leftovers Seasoning Blend

What does a good holiday dinner taste like to you?

Key word: dinner

There's so many great desserts, of course. Plethora of pies, preferably pecan, possibly pumpkin. Apple acceptable, cherry is choice. A cacophony of cookies, munchable mint, chewy chocolate chip, peanut butter is plenty better. Quality cakes as well...I could go on...

But we're here to talk the dinner itself. Tons of turkey, mounds of mashed potatoes, steep states of stuffing, generous grabs of green beans, copius corn...anything else? Oh goodness, gallons of gravy.

Don't you wish everything could taste like that?

It's now possible with Trader Joe's Everything but the Leftovers Seasoning Blend. 

You know that scene in the 1970s version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory where Violet Beauregarde marvels at the different elements of taste in the gum? Like how it tastes like roast beef and gravy and all that, just like that? That's almost the same concept here, except of course this isn't gum and I'm fairly certain the TJ's seasoning won't turn you into a giant blueberry that needs to be juiced. I mean, it is mainly salt, so a little ballooning is possible, but I digress. 

My potato of a phone isn't capable of getting a good pic of the ingredients for some reason, so here they are, in order: dehydrated onion, sea salt, yeast extract, salt, ground black pepper, dried yeast, turmeric powder, natural flavor, dried celery seed, citric acid, ground sage, rosemary powder, dried thyme, dried parsley. This kind of blend leans more towards turkey and poultry than beef, but it could still probably work.

Different aspects come out at different points. Sometimes it's more Scarborough Fair-inspired parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Other times there's a little more black pepper kick, and sometimes, yeah, it's kinda straight up salty. But overall, the savory impact implores the memories of great holiday foods, so sprinkle some on some eggs, veggies, meat, taters, heck, even popcorn for a little reminiscing treat.  
That's the real winning part of the EBTL spice blend: while not tasting precisely like any dish in particular (closest to gravy and stuffing, but not quite), it tastes enough like any of them that you're sure to find a particular taste to latch on to and think of while this is sprinkled on something else.We love it. Likely we're late to show as we usually here for anything new in Pittsburgh. I mean, Bon Jovi still takes up a third of the local hit charts. Pick it up if you see it, if you haven't already, as the EBTL won't be a bad medicine for everyday use. I won't give it a bad name with double fours. Have a nice day.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Everything but the Leftovers Seasoning Blend: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons



 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Batons

The weather here in the upper midwest has been absolutely gorgeous this week. Highs in the low 70s, lows in the low 40s, not much humidity, and often not a cloud in the sky...it's like the fall we didn't have in October, when we saw a week with highs in the 20s and 30s and even an early snowstorm. So we've been spending a lot of time in the backyard.

We put out our lawn chairs, get a campfire going in the fire pit, let the dogs run around. Sometimes we even work out there during the day. I might smoke a cheap cigar or have a beer. Sonia will either have a cider or an insulated cup of coffee. We try to stay off our phones while we're out there. It's a great way to unplug from all the madness—not that we watch any mainstream media anyway, but we still get a good enough dose of the outside world to raise our blood pressure when we're on Youtube and Bitchute or surfing conspiracy investigative research forums.


This week we both sat out with some java and munched on these pumpkin spice batons. I think these are the third or fourth flavor of batons that we've sampled from Trader Joe's. We missed the mango batons in summer 2016, but we've had enough to know what to expect, and in general, we're fans of the crispy little snacks.

Each iteration of baton has had a wafery outer shell that's delicate, crunchy, and lightly sweet. There's also an inner layer of creamy, smooth filling, which is significantly sweeter and provides most of the flavor. This particular variety has a nice pumpkin spice blend that's not overbearing or too subtle—it's right in the middle as far as pumpkin spice intensity, and it's decidedly satisfying.

They go particularly well with coffee and are obviously fairly dunkable by virtue of their long, skinny straw-like shape. They soak up just enough of the beverage to get slightly soggy on the outside, but not enough to become structurally unstable. In other words, you can dunk repeatedly without much fear of half the baton breaking off and going for a plunge to the bottom of your drink.

For only $1.99 these are great for a fall snack or as a pairing for your morning cuppa joe. We're looking forward to a relaxing weekend in our backyard sanctuary, and we'll probably polish off the rest of the canister while we're out there. We'd definitely consider purchasing again next fall. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from yours truly.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Trader Joe's Nantucket Style Cranberry Pie

Writing this in the wee morning hours of a near sleepless night on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday after the first Monday of a November that is (hopefully) nearing the culmination of yet another four year cycle that's been unlike any most of us have been around for, in a year like no other...there's a lot of different ways I could go with this next thought, but none of you are here for that. 

You're here for the pie! 

Specifically, Trader Joe's Nantucket Style Cranberry Pie.

Saying this while knocking on wood, no matter what lies ahead, Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. It's my favorite holiday of the year. It may look and feel different this year - Zoom calls and not card tables and folding chairs and all - but, no matter what, I'd like to focus on what I have to be thankful for. I urge you to do the same. Maybe give this a read if you need a nudge

Anyways, on to the Nantucket pie. Oh the limericks going thru my head right now. Is this a thing up there? Gonna have to check 'em out sometime. 

Do you like cranberries? If so you're gonna love this pie. that's the case with us. Tart, sweet, firm, a little smushy and jelled up - though there's a place in my heart for the stuff from a can, this is the real cranberry sauce kinda deal. Even better, there's a few walnuts sprinkled in. I emphasize a few. That's my only real complaint - a couple more crunchy walnuts would make this pie an absolute winner.

The crust almost makes up for it. Almost. It's not quite shortbready, but it's not plain ol' plain ol' either. I'm not sure what the proper classification is, except tasty. i can live with tasty. Can you? Good. 


It's $6.99 for the pie. Best deal in the world? Nah. but for something tasty and easy to put on the table, it's not awful at all either. Found in the freezer section, you can either thaw it at room temp for a couple hours - previous experience with this method suggests the longer the better - or you can stick in the oven, paper dish and all, for about 20 minutes then let cool to room temp. While not sure if a traditional way to enjoy or not, a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream doesn't seem completely out of line.

As an added bonus, my kids (who I am continually thankful for, despite my thinning hairline and wallet thanks to them) don't really like cranberries...so more dessert for me!

Give it a try. As with most anything else, I truly hope everyone gets their piece of the pie they want and deserve. We'll give this one a good score.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Nantucket Style Cranberry pie: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

 

Monday, November 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower & Butternut Squash Risotto

Since Americans apparently like to "let their voices be heard" and stuff, I'm setting up a little referendum of my own. Voting is all the rage here in these United States as of late, so let's have a mock election for the president of the pantry...the culinary commander in chief...the premier of the palate. It's another Micropoll! Please vote down below.

Just assume that all variations of each answer are included under the broader category. For example, if you like "apple cider" or "apple cinnamon," you'd vote "apple." If you like "pumpkin pie" or "pumpkin spice," you'd simply vote "pumpkin." If your favorite fall flavor is something other than what I've included in this particular poll, then just leave a comment below.

In all honesty, I don't think butternut squash can keep up with those other choices, but hey, you never know. Likewise, Kanye West could be the next president of the United States. Wouldn't that be a trip? #BirthdayParty2020

In case that poll isn't displaying correctly on mobile, just click here to vote.


Fortunately, unlike American politics, we don't have to choose just one delicious flavor to consume all autumn long. We can indulge in all the many tasty treats fall has to offer. And I'm glad I got to try this unique "risotto" dish this year.

It's easy to prepare. Like most Trader Joe's products, the heating time went well over their estimation of 10 minutes in the pan. The frozen pellets of sauce had just barely melted at the 10 minute mark. I let it heat up a bit more and cooked off most of the liquid. The sauce eventually went from watery to creamy, if that makes sense. It was probably more like 15 minutes when all said and done, and it turned out pretty well. 

If anything, I think the riced cauliflower gets just a tad softer than the rice in regular risotto, but when consumed with the sauce and butternut squash, the consistency is very creamy and the overall effect is very pleasant, authentic, and similar to a traditional risotto dish. What can't they do with riced cauliflower?

The flavor here is subtle—it may be even verging on too subtle, as in...you know, kinda bland. It's a creamed veggie essence with delicate notes of garlic and cheese. There's earthy, planty, nutty flavors, and the light sweetness of butternut squash. We just wish the flavors were all just a tad stronger and richer. It tastes vaguely fall-ish, but I'd be happy to consume it any other time of year. Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Risotto isn't really a stand alone entree in my opinion, but it makes a great side dish for your choice of protein. We served ours with salmon and it paired perfectly.

$3.69 for the 16oz bag. We'd consider buying it again. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.