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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Trader Joe's Vegetable Pastry Puffs

For a moment, Sonia and I were thinking that this product came without the funky red tapenade-esque substance you see on top of the pastries, since the packaging plainly states "serving suggestion." The last time we encountered that little trick, there was no sauce included. But these puffs did indeed come crowned with what is apparently "herbes de provence."

Ours didn't puff up quite as much as the ones on the cover art, and they came out significantly more greasy than what we were expecting, but they were still moderately enjoyable nonetheless. The breading was soft and moist, and the topping was like a thick pasta sauce flavored with sun-dried tomatoes and herbs—French herbs, apparently. The squares were quite small, but there's a 5 x 5 grid in the pack, for a total of 25 of them.

Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me. $3.99 for the box, imported from France. It's a lackluster appetizer, presentation-wise, but if you've a hankering for some soft dough topped with tangy tomato sauce, this'll hit the spot. Sonia made a video sharing her opinion of the product, and it features the nutrition info and shots of the appetizer itself, as well:

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Oat Cranberry Flax Seed Cookies

Hrmm, let's see. Gluten free. Oats. Cranberries. Gulp...flax seeds.

And in a cookie too? What? Jeez oh man, what kinda healthy hippie treehuggin' BS are we about to get suckered into by Trader Joe's Gluten Free Oat Cranberry Flax Seed Cookies?

Okay, yeah, that's a bit extrreme. But is it okay if I admit I wasn't thrilled about picking up and buying this sixpack of cookies? I mean, I like cookies in almost every way, shape and form...just ask my family around the holidays...but, this? These don't sound like a treat to me. Instead, these cookies, on first pre-sampling impression, seem to be one of those gimmicky "Well if you're gonna eat snacky doodads, make them healthy ones!" products that seem to always suspiciously spring up right around New Years.

For the two, maybe three bucks, I figured worst case we could throw them outside on a snowy day if we didn't like them. You know, for our winged friends. Bird suet. Because that's how they sounded to me...

Jumping Jack Flash, these are a smash, smash, smash.

Seriously. These are awesome. I can think of no other word. Usually when I think "gluten free" I think stiff and cardboardy (or in the case of most anything made with rice flour, damp newspaper-y), but that is so absolutely not the case here. Soft, crumbly, slightly chewy, as if they're almost pulled from the oven, the texture on these cookies is simply unbelievable. From pure mouhtfeel standpoint, these are amongst the tops I've ever laid my teeth too. And that's saying a lot.

The oats make a good earthy base for the batter, perfect for the slight tartness of the cranberries to stand out. I almost wish there was a nut like some almonds just for a little added harvest-esque touch, but the cookies don't suffer much from their absense. To be honest, I didn't notice the flax seeds much one way or another, so I'll take that as an overall positive. Can't let too much hippieness get between you and a good cookie.

I'm impressed, Sandy's impressed. Gonna stock up on these suckers and try to hide from our growing group of kiddos. These are some of the rare store bought cookies that I know I couldn't make better myself. It's been a while since we've crowned something as an inner circle hall of famer, but it seems due now. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...a perfect score. Now go out and get 'em!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Oat Cranberry Flax Seed Cookies: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Trader Joe's Mini Brie en Croute

couple posts ago, we discussed my unsophisticatedness. I'm just not into truffles. Despite my late mother's claims that I'm descended from British nobility, I've never had a taste for "fancy" things. I'm just as happy dining with paper plates and plastic cups as I am using fine china. In fact, I'd prefer the paper and plastic since no care need be taken in handling them. 

Or take caviar, as another example. I'm intrepid enough to have tried it multiple times, but I've never particularly liked it. I wish I liked it, because people who like it are "fancy." I've had it as an hors d'oeuvre with crackers, and I've had it on sushi. As much as I love classic sushi rolls, and even sashimi, I could never fully appreciate caviar. I've got more bourgeois in my marrow than blue blood, it would seem.

And I've given my spiel about brie on this blog before, too. I know, I know. Who doesn't like brie? Well, in general, I don't. But in the case of the Shells with Brie, I found it tolerable, since the brie was merely accompanying a number of other ingredients. So how will this appetizer fare? Let's take a look...

After heating the brie en croute, most of the pieces leaked out a bit of cheese and fused to one another on the baking sheet. No biggie. We salvaged about half of them fully intact, and the others...well, they wouldn't be fit to serve at a fancy shindig, but for Sonia and I just munching on them here and there throughout the day, they were just fine. 

I'm not sure what it is about brie that turns me off normally. I like most common cheeses just fine. I think brie is just a bit more "earthy" than other cheeses, and perhaps a little more intense. And in this case, the breading helped offset the natural flavor of the brie somewhat, which I was thankful for. The breading was soft and flaky, buttery, and pretty darn tasty. There were only certain bites here and there that tasted overly brie-ish. If you paid attention in science class, you'll know that heat can change the chemical properties of a substance, therefore changing the flavor of a toasted or baked food, to a degree. And that is to say, I think I like toasted brie a little better than raw brie.

Sonia thoroughly enjoyed both the puff pastry and the cheese. She liked that the pastry part was "light and airy," and she's always been a fan of brie. Her first instinct was to slather the apps with jelly. She grabbed some Welch's grape from the fridge and went at it. My initial reaction was to grimace at such a combo, but I must admit, it's not that bad. We both think it would go much better with a strawberry or raspberry flavored jelly or sauce, though. It might sound kinda random, but I'd also like to try them with that lingonberry jam from Ikea. At this point I should point out that the cup of sauce on the cover art is merely a "serving suggestion," and that this product does NOT come with a dipping sauce.

$4.99 for 10 pieces. Sonia's score probably would have been higher if it were slightly more affordable—four stars as it stands. I'll throw out three and a half. Not bad considering I don't like brie.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.