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Friday, September 24, 2021

Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Chili with Navy Beans

 

Let's get real here for a quick mo...can anything really beat chili?

Of course, this is a seasonally qualified statement. Chili on a 100 degree/100% humidity day? No way no how. Nuh uh. Non starter. There's amendments against cruel and unusual punishments, after all. So yeah, not then. 

But on a cool or cooler day, when only something warm and hearty will do? Chili please! Keep it coming. All day long. 

Though nothing beats homemade, in a quick pinch for a bite, may I humbly suggest giving Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Chili with Navy Beans a try?

Though I'm carnivorous by nature, I'm always down for an intriguing sounding veggie/vegan chili option. Chili works really well sans meat, heck, I'll even make it that way sometimes myself. This particular new TJ's chili, when spotted, became a must try, even when met with an initial wave of excitement mixed with a little skepticism. How good could it really be?

I took a taste, and now I'm a believer. 

Really, there's nothing not to like here, and nothing is missed. Big ol' meateating me loved every bite. There's the right consistency - not too watery, with plenty of bite between all the kale and beans and cauliflower crumbles. There's the right level of spice - enough to get a rise, sure, but not enough to overwhelm. It's kept in check perfectly. And there's the right amount of flavor - and it's delicoous! Kale is as fresh as can be given its circumstances, the beans add their beany goodness, all the spices are balanced in the right proportions to another. There's a pretty healthy dose of cinnamon added, which gives a nice little slant on the whole experience with a nice little warming touch that seems to really add a solid base to everything else. There's pepper and garlic and tomatoes and...it's just good. Every bite has a little bit of everything. It's awesome. 



Going back to the spice level, I'd rate it as about a 6/10 if eating straight on. It's more a flavorful spice than straight-out fire. I for one felt no need to add a little extra somethin'-somethin' to give it a kick. But , if say, one would add some cheese or pour over a baked potato (which this chili practically screams for doing) or some cornbread, I could see the heat getting dissipated a bit. For some of you, that'd be a plus, others, maybe not so much. But to me, that means it strikes about the right balance so as to be platable to the masses.

My lovely bride and I have already decided: we're stocking up. It's delicious and a jar will easily fill the two of us without giving either of us the food baby/food coma/ingested brick feeling I get with other chilis. This just may become our new cold day quick meal go to, and for like $4 for the jar, it cannot be beat. Love it. No faults at all here. Shoo the clouds away from the top of Olympus, we got a new Pantheoner here. Perfect fives and we mean it.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kale & Cauliflower Chili with Navy Beans: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons










Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Trader Joe's Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes


Bro...do you even hotteok?

Can't say I can, because I just learned the word tonight when prepping some Trader Joe's Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes. Lol..."Korean pancakes." Call 'em what they are, TJ's. Hotteok. Granted, yes, I along with likely 80% or more of shoppers wouldn't know what that means at first glance, but I'm always down for a little culinary education. Apparently hotteok is a popular Korean street food, filled with all sorts of stuff, in, well, more or less a pancake form. Never saw or heard of them before as I've never been to Korea and that's not much Korean influence around the 'burgh that'd make something even as tasty and tantalizing like this readily available. 

All that to say, heck yeah, these are pretty good.

Let's take another second to be clear here: I am not qualified in any way, shape or form to claim these as authentic or close to the real thing or for them to even be half as good. I'd actually be fairly and pleasantly surprised if they were. I'm judging these pancakes simply on their own merits, including costing $3ish bucks for 4 of them, and heating them from frozen on my stovetop for just a few minutes. So take as you will.

All that being said, yum. Let's start with the dough. It's delicious and pretty unique for my experience. Even heating right from frozen, with no butter or oil or anything used, the outside gets all browned and crispy and a touch greasy, just like a good comfort food should. Love it. Further in, it's not quite a mochi-esque bite, but in some ways it's close as it's a little chewy but also soft and moist and gooey and oozing out warmth. Looking over ingredients, there's all sorts of stuff in the dough - wheat, sweet potato, rice flour - that come together well into a soft, lightly sweet cake. 


The cinnamon reservoir is pretty fantastic too. I mean, it's a lot of cinnamon. Be careful that stuff is ridiculously hot and stays that way for longer than expected. The cinnamon adds a great spice bite that complements the dough really well, making these compact cakes have more punch than expected. 

Still, adding a little ice cream or whipped cream or something like that to just really fill it out? That'd be worthy of hashtagging a #chefskiss all over this. 

Delicious, We love 'em and I'm glad we got a second bag that I'm already looking forward to busting open. Authentic? Maybe, maybe not...if you know, tell me. But I'm glad that TJ's has introduced me to this particular chunk of the culinary world, and I know I'll be seeking out the real deal if I ever get the chance. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, September 20, 2021

Trader Joe's Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bites

Oatmeal is a hearty, nutritious breakfast and all, but I don't usually think of it as a treat. I mean, sure, oatmeal cookies have been a go-to semi-sweet snack for ages. I guess I want to look at these apple cinnamon oatmeal bites as spherical oatmeal cookies. 
They're kinda like the aebelskivers of the snackable oatmeal world. If you can turn pancakes into spheres, why not oatmeal? Or any other breakfast food for that matter?

Resealable bag? Check. Air fryer instructions? Check. Nine frozen oatmeal balls? Check. Like planet earth, these oatmeal bites are not perfect spheres, but might qualify as "oblate spheroids."

After a spell in the Ninja, the bites are crispy and crusty on the outside and wet and gooey on the inside. The dueling textures make them fun and unique, significantly more interesting than traditional oatmeal.


They have a rich, hearty, grainy taste like regular bowl-bound oatmeal, and there's a pretty decent amount of apple and cinnamon flavor. It's not a desserty flavor by my estimation, though. The flavor is on par with a regular non-spherical apple cinnamon oatmeal. They're not as cookie-esque as I might have hoped. They're more breakfasty in terms of sugary decadence—or rather, a decided lack thereof. That's fine. I kinda wish they were just a taaad sweeter. Would you think me a monster if I added maple syrup or whipped cream or something?


The convenience level is significant, and there's a definite novelty factor here. $3.99 for 3 servings. I think we're looking at about three and a half stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.