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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Over the River & Through the Wood Trek Mix

Over the river and through the wood
On our busy lives we go!
Does TJ's know a way
For our hunger to be slayed
Oh please, don't tell me no!

I could go on...but we're all busy here. Tis the season. I'd much rather just go right into the details of this newish tantalizing looking snack, Trader Joe's Over the River & Through the Wood Trex Mix.

Man, there's a lot in here. It's almost easier to list what isn't in than what is. There's a lot of almonds, piles of pepitas, a plethora of pecans, copious cranberries, a peck of pistachios, and a plentiful prosperity of pretzels of the chocolate covered variety...in both dark and white chocolate.  Don't like anything in there? You must be crazy.

Really, it's a good mix. There seems to be the most of the almonds, pepitas and cranberries, which isn't a bad thing. If I wanted a bag chock-full of chocolate covered pretzels, I could buy one. Everything is crunchy and munchy and melds together well enough, with a couple noteworthy bits.

The MVP of the trek mix has got to be the pecans. The bag says they're pumpkin spiced, and there's definitely a little of that kinda flavor to them. But it's more mild cinnamon and ginger than over the top, slap ya outta your Uggs pumpkin spice which I more or less loathe. SO enjoyable, with a soft roasted bite, and there's a good amount of full pecans as well as itty bitty pieces, that really make the mouthful when present.

As for the LVP? It's almost unfair, but if I ahd to pick one, it'd be the sweetened dry cranberries. I like 'em just fine, but their tartness overrides most of the other ingredients when they're around. They mesh the least well with anything else here, so that's why I'd pick them. Part of me would almost prefer boring old raisins, but then I'd probably complain about boring old raisins, so maybe there's just no pleasing me here.

Everything else is on point. Love the chocolate pretzels in particular too. The pepitas are pepitas - what else can be said? Yum. Pistachios are always welcome, especially when there's no need to shell them. Just a small handful goes a long way.

Great mix. Highly enjoyable. Reasonably priced - well, I'm assuming so, misplaced the receipt, wife doesn't remember, I wasn't there at time of purchase, so one of y'all can fill us in. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Over the River & Through the Wood Trek Mix: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, December 9, 2019

Trader Joe's Cheesecake in a Bite


These little bites are, in fact, little more than bites. They're very small. If I would have read the box carefully before purchasing, I would have seen that the pic on the cover art does include a disclaimer about the image being "enlarged to show texture." On the back of the packaging, however, there's a much smaller pic of a cheesecake in a bite with the caption "actual size."

Another interesting point to ponder before even taking a taste of these little bite-sized cheesecakes: the preparation instructions. "Defrost at room temperature for 3-4 minutes." Three or four minutes? I'm not sure how hot these folks have their houses, but I wouldn't think 72 degrees could thaw anything in 3-4 minutes. Keeping Tiago the Tioga, our house on wheels, at 72 degrees is a near impossibility in our current climate. A small price to pay for the freedom we enjoy. But we're about to hit a stretch that won't see above-freezing temps for four whole days. We're more than comfortable in the low to mid 60's in our coach, and our multiple propane Buddy Heaters and electric space heaters keep the living areas in that ballpark pretty consistently.


So we simply defrosted for a few extra minutes. The cheesecake bites were thoroughly thawed, surprisingly. Their texture is exactly what you'd expect from cheesecake. The top part is smooth, creamy, and soft. The bottom provides some structural stability and a more cookie-like texture.

The tastes? Somewhere between good and great, in my opinion. Peppermint isn't necessarily a cheesecake flavor I'd ever seek out. I don't hate peppermint. I just think there are tons of other flavors I'd rather see cheesecake-ified. If you're on the hunt for an indulgent, creamy version of peppermint, the peppermint flavor in this cheesecake bite collection might be exactly what you're looking for. Flaunting a bit of chocolate flavor, too, it's not unlike a classic peppermint patty in cheesecake form.

I felt the gingersnap spice flavor tasted a lot like pumpkin pie, sans the pumpkin. Ginger is usually one of the dominant spices in a pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, so it makes sense this would taste a lot like pumpkin pie. There's also cinnamon up in the mix, as well as a hint of molasses. My favorite, Sonia's second favorite.


The maple vanilla flavor is pretty tasty. You can detect both distinct maple and vanilla flavors. I think maple could have easily overshadowed the vanilla if they hadn't taken any care to balance the two precisely. It's a bit like what I might have guessed pouring maple syrup on plain vanilla cheesecake might taste like, but perhaps a tad less messy. This was Sonia's preferred flavor out of the three, my second. 

I give Trader Joe's Cheesecake in a Bite collection three and a half stars. I've tasted better cheesecake in my day, but the presentation is nice, and there's nothing really lacking. It will all come down to your own personal affinity for the three somewhat unusual flavors they've selected for this product.

$5.99 for 12 cheesecake bites. Sonia's score? Four out of five stars.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Trader Joe's Ginger Snowball Cookies

Prepare ye the annual holiday cookie onslaught!

You know how it is. Every year around this time...cookies cookies cookies. Cookies here. Cookies there. As my five year old would gratuitously add, cookies in your underwear. Well, probably not there, but if you did, who am I to judge? We all need to get through our days somehow.

Cookies cookies cookies...so I didn't really need to buy Trader Joe's Ginger Snowball Cookies...but yet here we are.

There's not much reinventing of the wheel here. If you're thinking these look like fairly typical holidayesque pfeffernüsse, you're on the right track. Soft, crumbly, buttery, lots of excess powdered sugar to dry up your mouth and cough out and make a flurry fall on your sweater...yeah, these check all those marks.

As a redhead myself, the phrase used on the package though kinda makes me blush. "Studded with ginger," it says. I mean...well, I don't know what I mean. But you know what I mean.

What Trader Joe's means by that particular phrase is interspersed throughout the cookies are little bits of candied ginger. These ginger pebbles will either make or break the cookies for you. There's two things about them. First, the flavor is really particularly mild. Ginger can be really over the top or under the radar, and TJ's chose the latter here. I kinda like it, but I want more ginger taste. And second, for the unsuspecting, their presence really interrupts the bite path. It's not quite like biting into a rock, but the rest of the cookie is so soft and crumbly that hitting as hard spot kinda interfered with the whole experience. Instud of these "studs", as it were, I'd prefer the flavor to be amped up and disseminated throughout the dough, maybe like a triple ginger snap reimagined as pfeffernüsse.

So yeah. We have our annual cookie party coming up, and these will likely not be on the tray. It's not out of hate or spite, but well I spent five hours baking yesterday so I'd rather have the fruits of my efforts be on display. But when that's not a possibility, I'd consider buying again for the $3 or so. They're good enough I s'pose.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ginger Snowball Cookies: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons