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Showing posts with label breakfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breakfast. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2022

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Triple Ginger Muffins


Like raw garlic, ginger is one of those miracle substances that's truly a gift to mankind. It has antibacterial properties. It can lower blood pressure. It can even aid digestion and help fight the common cold. Unlike garlic, it actually lends a great flavor to
candies, sweet beverages, and other treats.

I can't vouch for any health benefits or healing properties from this particular product, but I can tell you it tastes significantly like real, raw, unadulterated ginger. In my opinion, they got the ginger flavor juuust right. It's always a delicate balance. The recently-reviewed Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies didn't have enough real ginger flavor if you ask me, and products like the Ginger, Almond & Cashew Granola had too much raw ginger flavor. This product nailed the ginger level with ginger puree, candied ginger, crystallized ginger, and ground ginger. Wait. That's four kinds of ginger. That makes this product Trader Joe's Gluten Free Quadruple Ginger Muffins. I guess "triple ginger" rolls off the tongue a little better.

The ginger is balanced out by the alternative flours like rice, potato, and tapioca along with a sweetness blend including molasses and brown sugar. Sonia, in particular, loved the molasses and brown sugar. The ginger flavor is powerful, but not overwhelming.


Texture-wise, these are practically identical to October's Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Muffins. They're not simply moist or oily, they're nearly wet with a sticky liquid glaze. There's an unusual fresh-baked quality about them, and they don't suffer for a lack of wheat or gluten. Unlike the pumpkin version, these didn't seem to have that grainy or gritty texture at all.

$4.99 for four muffins. Sonia likes pumpkin just a bit more than she likes ginger, so she'll go a half star lower on this one. I'll go half a star higher since these didn't make me cough. So four stars from me, three and a half from the beautiful wifey on Trader Joe's Gluten Free Triple Ginger Muffins.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Trader Joe's Glazed Maple Donuts


Well, shoot. That's a tough act to follow: a teary-eyed farewell post with 12 years worth of memories and reviews and goodbyes and whatnot. I might lose half my audience if I don't bring my A-game here these next few posts. What could possibly do this blog justice after that?

I honestly don't know. But these maple glazed donuts are gonna give it the old college try, that's for sure. And I gotta say: I'm a fan.

In terms of cakiness and density, these are not unlike the Apple Cider Donuts from a few years back. These maple dealies look a little more cruller-ish in terms of their twisty, braided appearance. They're soft, sweet, and made fresh daily—something I didn't realize before this purchase. I guess they get delivered? I don't think there's a bakery in that back room at the Trader Joe's store...but I could be wrong.

The glaze is mapley, but honestly, it might not be quiiiite mapley enough for this guy. I was thinking they'd be absolutely dripping with real, rich maple syrup from Canada or Vermont or somewhere like that. I mean, they are maplicious. Don't get me wrong. There's maple in that glaze for sure. But it's almost like they mixed the regular sugar glaze from a plain glazed donut with a maple glaze, yielding a donut that is exactly half as mapley as I'd like it to be.


Fun fact: maple syrup appears in the ingredients list under the "contains less than 2% of the following" section. Version 2.0 should contain at least 4% maple syrup. I guess I could always add my own syrup...

The friendly Trader Joe's clerk gave me the following pro-tip, and I'll pass it along to you: microwave each donut for 15 seconds before consuming. These are fine at room temperature, but they're waaay better warmed up.

Sonia digs 'em a lot, too, although she agrees the maple flavor could be a little stronger. She says they'd go well with coffee. Indeed they would, my love. Indeed they would. $4.49 for six pastries. Four stars from Sonia, four from me on Trader Joe's Glazed Maple Donuts.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.


Friday, October 14, 2022

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Muffins


Top of the muffin to you! In general, the observation from the famous episode of Seinfeld is accurate: that the top of the muffin is by far the best part. But in this case, I'd say the "stump" is just as good as the top—all part of one pastry. No reason to discriminate. Sonia might disagree.

We're looking at these particular muffins primarily for the benefit of the gluten-intolerant. Sonia and I, while both gluten-sensitive, generally just bite the bullet and deal with some mild discomfort after eating regular bread. Once in a while, we just avoid bread altogether, and once in a while, we seek out gluten-free alternatives. We've both known folks with Crohn's and celiac conditions and are well aware that for some people, "biting the bullet" just isn't an option. So for you all, here are our thoughts:

These were exceptionally soft and moist muffins. The liners were visibly wet when we pulled them off of the pastries. If not for the fact they were room temperature when we ate them, I might have assumed they were fresh-baked in a blind taste test. Sonia observed that the top portion of the muffin was sweeter than the rest. She thinks a bit of icing might have made it even tastier.

As far as the pumpkin spice goes, we both agree it was well-balanced. Everything was tangible and tastable but no single spice nor pumpkin element overshadowed the delicate sweet brown sugar flavor profile of these baked goods.

Our primary complaint was an odd coarseness in the bread that seemed to build up the more we ate. I used the word "grainy." Sonia used the word "gritty." We both felt it and both didn't like it, but in both cases, we agreed—not a deal-breaker. Still a good product, particularly in light of its gluten-free status.

$4.99 for four muffins. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Espresso Beans


If you wanted to play a really mean trick on your whole neighborhood at Halloween, you could buy a bunch of bags of these at Trader Joe's (only 99¢ each) and pass them out to all the kids for Trick or Treat. They're candy-esque enough that a lot of the children would gobble them down before they even realized what they were eating. They'd be bouncing off the walls well into the wee hours of All Saints' Day. It would be hilarious.

But seriously though, don't do that. And if you do happen to do that, definitely don't mention that you got the idea here. I'll take down this post and deny everything.

Honestly, though, I'm projecting. Sonia puts these out in our little pumpkin-shaped candy dish and most nights, I'm the undiscerning victim. I'll get the munchies after dinner and I'll gobble down a handful. Fast forward to 11pm or midnight and I'm lying in bed, staring at the ceiling all bug-eyed and wiggling around like the poster child in a restless leg syndrome PSA, with Sonia swatting at me trying to stop me from moving. So that's Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Espresso Beans' biggest strength as well as their biggest weakness: they're addicting and they're caffeinated.


Flavor-wise, there's a nice balance of rich, earthy espresso beans and sweet white chocolate dusted with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It works at least as well as regular chocolate if you ask Sonia or me. We bought multiple bags and we're glad we did.

If you're burning the midnight oil for work or need a sweet, caffeinated mid-day pick-me-up, or even looking for an alternative to coffee or energy drinks in the morning, these are a thumbs up from both of us. It says there's two servings per package, but just three or four beans is usually enough to take me to my happy place. Will buy again. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Four from yours truly.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola

Oh man, let's just try to work through this here. 

At first glance, it really looks like the real name of this product is....ready for it....Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola Cookies & Creme Inspired Granola Clusters. That's a real mouth full. it's a good thing that a "granola cookie" really isn't a thing - I mean, it sounds an edgier, crunchier oatmeal cookie - but as a guy who's eaten, reviewed and researched many a cookie, I've never heard of them. I'm now patiently waiting for you all to prove me wrong that such a thing does exist, and if so, I'll give you my mailing address and eagerly wait an up-close inspection. 

So, really, it's "just" Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola, but with all those potentially possessive 'postrophes, there's a question of ownership and chain of command. I mean, it's my granola! Hands off now Joe-Joe...and Trader Joe's...it's mine and you won't want it when I'm done with it. 

Enough banter, let's get to it. Joe-Joe's, of course, are TJ's answer to the all time classic Oreo sandwich cookie. They're pretty nondescript, except to say it's a bit of a tasty knockoff, but it's fun to incorporate them into things like ice cream, and now, apparently, granola. 

This stuff is seriously crisp and crunchy, much more than regular granola. Perhaps the addition/utilization of coconut is the reason. This crunchy crispy clusters will give your molars a work out right out of the bag, and honestly, not even milk will soften it, at least in the few minutes it'd take to scarf down a bowl. Super crunchy and munchy. I dig. 

And if cookies and creme is your bag, this'll deliver. There's plenty of not-precisely-Oreo Oreo flavor that delivers - just the right amount of chocolate amped up by the little choco-bits strewn about, and a good hint of the vanilla creme filling too. What's missing is the full, rich, creaminess from the filling of the cookie - naturally, a little milk helps bring it out, a little, and it totally makes sense why it's not all quite there. It's a pretty good adaptation for what it is. 

Pour some in a bowl and drown in milk, or grab a handful and toss in some yogurt, or just straight mash it down the gullet. it's all good. The granola is pretty filling for what it is, and I'd say it delivers. No real complaints from my lovely bride and I - it's solid, tasty, not quite transcendent, but pretty tasty overall. We're pretty happy here. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Granola: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 
 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Brioche Twist

If you're a carnivore, you eat nothing but meat. And what is meat but the muscles of animals? Also, not surprisingly, since "you are what you eat," a strict carnivore's physique generally becomes more and more muscular.

I'm not sure when I first heard it or who coined the word, but one of the funniest food puns I've ever heard is the word "carbivore" to describe those of us who are naturally inclined to breads and other carbohydrates. And unfortunately, carbivores tend to become what they eat as well, and they get a little doughy in the middle.

I must admit, although I'm in a constant battle against my cravings, I'm naturally fairly carbivorous myself. I've never met a piece of brioche toast I didn't like. And this one is no exception—with swirls of pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and pumpkin spice all through it. Yum. This loaf is pre-sliced perfectly for a traditional toaster. Just grab a piece, pull off the wax paper liner, warm it up, add a bit of butter. Perfection.


Again, maybe my critical standards go out the window when carbs are involved. Maybe I'm not thinking clearly, but I just can't think of any complaints. 

Some might say this is just glorified cinnamon bread and they wouldn't be entirely wrong, but the fall-ish flavors are well-balanced—neither too dominant nor too subtle. The texture is soft and supple and the bread just melts in your mouth. I could eat the whole loaf in a single day.

Sonia absolutely loved this product, too. Her only complaint was that the slices might be just a tad too thick, just barely clearing the slots in our toaster, width-wise. Also, she forgot to peel off the liner paper once or twice, so...there's that. She made French toast out of a couple of the pieces and added maple syrup. I'll agree that they were superbly scrumptious, but I'd rather save this brioche bread to eat by itself and have her make French toast out of regular bread.

But I'm getting off track. This is an outstanding fall product by my estimation. I hope it returns next year. $4.49 for about 9 slices. Five stars from me. Four and a half from the beautiful wifey.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Trader Joe's Naturally Flavored Strawberry Waffles

 

It's August, so in just a few week's time it's gonna be back to school time...may as well start stocking up on what we're gonna need. Notebooks, pencils, crayon, whatever else we usually raid from Staples or wherever, and man, we gotta find our one kid's iPad we hid so well we can't find it ourselves. 

And while we're at it, may as well back up the truck on some Trader Joe's Naturally Flavored Strawberry Waffles. 

Freezer waffles are a constant in our house, but especially during the school year. Quick, easy, portable, tasty enough breakfast on the go - what's not to like? Heck, I'd go as far as to say they're practically a necessity, given the precaffeinated chaos that usually arises as we keep one ear open for the distant rumble of an approaching school bus.

It's nice to have variety, though, which is exactly what we got here from TJ's. Not just a plain waffle...or blueberry...or an unexpectedly wise mango...but strawberry. It's a change up, and a welcome one at that. There's everything to like here if you're a fruity freezer waffle aficonado like we are. 

For one, as we had hoped for and expected,  the waffles themselves are relatively hefty and bready. We like our Eggos here, but you know how lightweight they are? It's not quite the same here. I mean, it doesn't beat an actual waffle waffle, but for a freezer waffle, there's some serious substance to them. 

The batter is, of course, pretty neutrally flavored with a tinge of sweetness, which complements the strawberries pretty well. And there's a lot of berry buried in there too, more than meets the eye. There's little puree pockets and berry bits all strewn about and mixed in, and seem almost jam-like at times. Which leads me to my next point: while I'm sure maple syrup would work okay here, if you like sugar overload, the real play just might be some peanut or almond or sunflower seed butter here. Make it taste like a sammich, and more easily portable too. Win win. 

Our kiddos devoured the whole box in less than 10 minutes. I'm lucky I snagged one! And only $1.99 for the box! Or was it $2.99? I'm sorry, summer brain drain going on here, maybe I need to go back to school myself. Absolutely worth a pick up, and I'd buy a pallet full if it were practical. Sorry for the somewhat beat up box pics, but that's what you get when your four year old wants to be helpful and cram them into an already full freezer compartment...if we had more freezer space, I'd buy at least a case. That'd get ravaged here in no time. Fours all around. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Naturally Flavored Strawberry Waffles: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, July 29, 2022

Trader Joe's Mini Meyer Lemon Biscotti


Trader Joe's will make a coffee drinker out of me yet if they keep putting out delicious flavors of biscotti. Apparently, this one's been around for a while. Not sure why it took us so long to actually purchase it, but here are our thoughts...

Very hard. They really need to be paired with coffee. I suppose tea or hot chocolate might work, too, but they have to have a hot beverage to really permeate their inner layers. I tried a couple with cold milk and it just didn't work. I mean, flavor-wise it was fine, but the biscotti were still too hard.


Like Sonia, I think most people will be perfectly happy with how lemony these biscotti are. I, however, always want more lemon flavor—or in this case Meyer lemon flavor—in pretty much everything. Still, there's a respectable amount of lemon, which I appreciate. I can't tell whether the zig-zaggy icing is lemon flavored as well or if it's just sugary sweet. I suppose it's there more for the visuals than any actual flavor.

The miniature size is fun and convenient. They're still long enough to get pretty far down into your coffee mug, and their texture is just about perfect once they've sopped up a bunch of warm java—almost like a fresh-baked cookie, but wetter.


$3.99 for 16 miniature sticks of biscotti, which apparently equals eight servings. We'd probably buy again. Four stars from the beautiful wifey. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Trader Joe's Cocoa & Sea Salt Instant Oatmeal


Oatmeal isn't the most exciting food in the world, but I've never minded it. I've never exactly adored it, either. You just have to jazz it up a bit, you know? Add some fruit, maple syrup, or maybe
some pickle seasoning and you're in business. It's simple, nutritious, and filling, even if it lacks fancy colors and fantastic flavors, it's still a staple for many people around the world, including most Americans. In short: don't despise the small and common things like oatmeal in this life, and if you—or Trader Joe's—does something to make it magically delicious, then all the more power to you and your gourmet-ish breakfast.

Cocoa and sea salt? Not the first combo I'd think to throw in my bowl of oatmeal, but I must admit it works. I tried a wee bit of the mix before heating it in the same way I might lick the batter off the mixing spoon before baking cookies. Yeah. No. Don't do that. It's not the same thing. It's gross. All I could taste was the salt. It was a little bitter...and extremely salty.


After a brief spell in the microwave, however, cocoa was indeed the dominant flavor. The sea salt was still detectable but much more subtle. There's still that ever-present wholesome nutty oat flavor that always seems to accompany oatmeal, but the cocoa flavor made it even more pleasant.

It's not over-the-top chocolatey, either. It's not like a dessert or even like a kid's chocolate cereal. There's just a moderately sweet cocoa essence and a touch of saltiness, appropriately balanced against the oatmeal's intrinsic graininess. Sonia adds walnuts to hers for protein and even more nutty goodness. She says she likes it more and more with each bowl she has.

I like it too, but maybe not quite as much as the beautiful wifey. Of course we make ours with milk. Or in the absence of cow's milk, we use almond milk, or possibly some mixture of half and half and water. If I were TJ's marketing guru, I'd call it Trader Joe's Cocoatmeal, and there would be a chocolate vampire or cuckoo bird on the box. Even though it's not really aimed at sweet-toothed children, the box is a bit boring and doesn't do the product justice in our opinions.

$2.99 for 10 packets of oatmeal. Good value. Will buy again. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Trader Joe's Pain au Lait Chocolate Chip

This product was absolutely screaming our names from the breads section at Trader Joe's. We enjoyed its predecessor so much, we were both excited to see a version with chocolate chips. Chocolate chips make everything better, right?

Well, in this case, maybe not—at least in our humble opinion. Chocoholics may disagree, but this product made Sonia and I realize that we are milk roll purists. At least in my case, I'd never had an honest-to-goodness French milk roll until I tried the plain pain au lait from Trader Joe's. That was some amazingly special bread: the soft texture, the milky flavor just absolutely wowed us. Other than fresh-baked, that might have been the best plain bread I've ever had. And this bread flaunts the same flavor and same texture. Still amazing. Still top-shelf. But the chocolate chips don't really add anything.


At first, there's something novel about it. I mean, it's candy baked right into the bread. What a great idea, right? But after a few bites, we both found ourselves pining for the pure, unadulterated taste and texture of the delicious bread without anything detracting from it.

Get your hands on the original stuff if you can. If not, this product is still pretty freaking tasty. If we'd tried this version first, I'm sure we would've been a bit more impressed. We didn't see the original pain au lait at our TJ's on our last visit, but I hope that doesn't mean it's been discontinued.


$2.99 for the bag. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from this guy. We'd buy again, but only in the absence of the plain pain.

I suppose it's pronounced more like "pan" or "pon" than the English word "pain," but to quote the Princess Bride:

Life is pain, Highness.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Trader Joe's Egg Wraps


Look, in the deli section! It's an egg....it's a wrap...it's the new Trader Joe's Egg Wraps!

You ever eat something with a familiar flavor in an unconventional or at least non-standard form? That's pretty much the experience here with these new-fangled gluten-free dairy-free kinda crepe-like eggy tortilla type thingies. It's...equally somewhat familiar and somewhat foreign all at once. 

The closest approximation I can make as far as taste is a Dutch baby pancake, which are pretty heavy into eggs and flour if you're not acquainted with them. Even that's not quite right, as it's rice flour and millet used here, not all-purpose. And obviously the wraps aren't all big and poofy either. But it gets the idea of a super egginess into a pancake-esque form, with a slightly more "grain"y taste. Odd, perhaps, but it works. 


The wraps themselves are super pliable and easy to use, like any respectable tortilla. Whether warming up or eating cold from the fridge, the flavor and flexibility remained really about the same. it was easy to make a quick ham and cheese wrap that wasn't greasy or slimy or offputting in any way. For us, I could see us using the wraps as a quick morning breakfast when the craving for eggs hits, but the time doesn't allow. Of course, if you need to be gluten-free, or just want to sneak some extra protein into your diet, you don't need to wait til breakfast time. That's just us. 

Six wraps come in the package, which is good for three servings. Cost was about $4.49 if I recall right, so about 75 cents each. Seems fair to have that kinda convenience/novelty upcharge baked in. No real complaints, and they're differently interesting to try on out.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Egg Wraps: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Avocado Smoothie


 "Ugh. Enjoy your salad dressing drink."

So sayeth my lovely bride. As if I wasn't already somewhat apprehensive enough about giving Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Cucumber Avocado Smoothie a try, though in retrospect, drinkable salad dressing does sound more appealing than gulpabe guacamole, though maybe only slightly. 

I like healthy things, generally, and using something like a banana as base for a smoothie like this sounds perfectly appealing. But...avocado? That throws off everything. 

Texturewise, it works, even better than expected once realized that cucumber was the base liquid. That took an extra second or two, but cucumbers are like mostly water, right? So it should work, and it does, albeit with definitely a lot of cucumber taste - believe it or not, right? There's enough other stuff to fill out the drink, like mango and spinach, that make the avocado literally blend right in. It's almost not noticeable except as a thickening agent and slight flavor contributor, emphasis on slight.

What IS noticeable is the lime. I mean, holy guacamole. Add a little touch of salt or spice and this would be practically a watery guacamole, with extra lime. It's so limey that the risk of scurvy probably just got kicked ten years down the road. If you don't *love* limes, this won't be for you. It's lime city, baby. There's a whole lime in here, and it tastes more like a whole grove.

There is a little sweetness which I presume would be the cherries, as it's not quite of the mangolicious persuasion. It..kinda works but kinda clashes with the overt citrus overload at the same time. And ginger? Not really there but seems more of an aftertaste, which is too bad as perhaps it'd be the ginger that pulls and keeps everything together.

In all, it's an okay drink. I'll definitely be full for the next couple hours. For what it is, and prices these days, it's not awful at somewhere in the $3 to $4 range. That being said, not sure I'd get it again. Too weird as a drink. Maybe more as a sald dressing would be the right idea. Apparently, according to my wife, there's some chatter elsewhere on the web that using this on chicken is pretty good? Maybe that'd work, I dunno. 

Double threes sounds two high, double two too low, so one of each.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Avocado Smoothie: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Trader Joe's Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix

 

Monday nights are breakfast for dinner night in our house. Just is. Almost always has been, just maybe will be forever, we'll see. My lovely bride and the kiddos like to call it brinner, I will too on occasion, but that sounds weird. Absolutely better than brupper, I guess.

Anyways, if bacon and eggs aren't what we're doing, then it's gonna be bacon and pancakes or waffles. Bacon makes Mondays better, so it's nearly nonnegotiable. But when something new gets tossed our way, like the new Trader Joe's Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix, we'll give it a whirl for sure. The sidekicks can always be open to discussion. 

By now, I've had enough homemade pancakes and waffles to know my lovely bride is awesomely, perfectly capable of making a darn good pancake and/or waffle. Mixes never have that same from scratch vibe. That's kinda the same thing here with the TJ's mix - nothing wrong per se, but not anything overwhelmingly special. 

 What it's got is convenience. Homemade stuff takes time. Sometimes we got that...sometimes we don't. Getting stuck at work late then having one kid needing to go to Girl Scouts and another wanting to play Ticket to Ride means not as much time. Bam. Dump the mix in the bowl, stir in some water, heat up a griddle and go. Sandy pounded these out in no time flat. 

And the outcome was pretty acceptable. Firm, a bit fluffy, a little buttermilky, and plenty of milky chocolate chips. I swear they multiplied somehow because it didn't look like that many, but every bite had multiple chocolate chips. That'll make the kids, even the middle aged ones, happy. These went right down the hatch. Though we made them as pancakes, both the Mrs and i noted we thought the experience would easily transfer over as a waffle as well.

Only complaint is, there's no whole bag of mix instructions. There's about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups of mix in the bag. The highest the mix-to-water chart goes is two cups mix to 1 1/3rd cup water. That means if you want to do the whole bag of mix at once (like we did) you either gotta eyeball it or do some fancy math and hope for the right end consistency. Mondays are hard enough, don't put multiplying fractions into it, please. 

Anyways, for only like $2 for the mix, it'll be a regular pick up. Not amazing, but good enough as is to not really elicit too many complaints.I'll take that any day but especially Mondays...

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mini Chocolate Chip Pancake & Waffle Mix: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons



Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Trader Joe's Vegan Gingerbread Loaf


 Ever wonder what you were thinking when making a purchasing decision?

I am with Trader Joe's Vegan Gingerbread Loaf. 

My best guess is I subconsciously wanted an opportunity to dunk repeatedly on any TJ's food product cuz it's been a hot minute since I've done that. 

This moment of self reflection has led me to not doing so, but not because I actually like the aforementioned gingerbread loaf.

You see, there's an issue with gingerbread in general, as well as this one specifically. Quite frankly, it's boring. Here, look, it's a monotonous loaf of gingered carbs. Yay. Would the lack of eggs and/or butter really make it any better? No offense, but I doubt it. Applesauce is usually a good sub for those, and it'd work, but instead TJ's opted for pureed pumpkin. Really, with the pumpkin, then cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg and not to mention the heavy dose of ginger, this could have just as easily been named as "Pumpkin Spice Loaf" which if that's your thing, fine, but it'd be a no from me, dawg. 

I'll give it this: there's some good ginger hits in there. It's nothing like a Triple Ginger Snap, mind you, and when it comes it has to fight thru a more bready-carby base to shine, which is a little tough. A few bites, though,  and you'll get used to it, and the flavor becomes increasingly one note. 

Really, a little something else is needed to help break it all up. Some nuts or raisins would be nice. A little cream cheese like frosting or glaze could really set the loaf off, and could be done in a vegan-friendly way with some almonds or cashews or, according to my lovely bride, tofu (gulp). I warmed a piece briefly and that seemed to make an improvement, and perhaps a little melted butter or vegan spread of choice would help as well. 

Just as is...not a fan. As much as I hate the thought, it's likely headed towards the trash as it'll go stale before we finish it. I don't like it enough to eat the whole remaining loaf any time soon, my wife will have a small slice a day max, and our kiddos are much more into their slowly dwindling stockpile of Halloweeen candy to really give this a notice. We'll give it the ol' college try though. Wasting food is bad. 

There it is. For a sneak at the nutritionals, here ya go. Really, for a gingerbread loaf, the TJ's vegan one isn't bad for being a gingerbread loaf....but unfortunately in my book it's still just a gingerbread loaf. Kinda a backhanded compliment there, so I'll add half a golden spoon to my score, which isn't enough to raise it much past middlin' at best. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Vegan Gingerbread Loaf: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, October 18, 2021

Trader Joe's Maple Flavored Poffertjes

Let's see...car can use that oil change. That pile of bills there should probably be looked at. Basement is a mess. That basket of laundry over there isn't gonna take care of itself. Neither will that one...or that one...or that one...

Still...

Okay, fine. Sometimes I have a hard time getting around to getting stuff done, alright? Jeez Louise, leave me alone. 

But still that doesn't explain why it took so long for us to get around to giving Trader Joe's Maple Flavored Poffertjes. 

There's no reason for procrastination here. None. Don't know what a poffertje is? No problem! As the package clarifies right off the bat for you, it's a mini pancake puff! Don't know what to do with them? No issue either! Look at how tasty they look on the package - now that's a serving suggestion if I've ever seen one. Maple flavored anything is a win in our house, and selling our kiddos on the idea of eating little baby pancakes isn't exactly twisting their arm one bit. 


The TJ's-offered poffertjes (say that 5 times fast) are really as about as straightforward as they come. It's a cheap ($3ish?) box full of frozen mini pancake bites. Bake them for less than 10 minutes, or zap them for a minute, and you got a breakfast snacky. My lovely bride and I opted for the oven approach which yielded mounds of warm, crispy outside/floofy inside pancakes just right for one of the last not-too-cold Saturday morning porch breakfasts of the year. 


There's a small little touch of maple. Not much, and it's a bit understated. i actually kind of appreciate that. nutritionally speaking, these are already a bit much of a cluster, no reason to amp it up even more. That little bit of maple sugar in the batter does stand out a smidge. If you'd like, a little more maple syrup atop, or some powdered sugar and berries as suggested, or something else wouldn't be the worst of moves, but eating them as is isn't a bad experience. We like them fair and square. 

As a quick conspiratorial sidenote: they call them puffs and notice the number of calories per serving. Coincidence? Don't think so. Take two and pass. 

Are the poffertjes truly authentic to the real Dutch deal? Don't know for sure, but it's a reasonable tribute at least. Maybe one of these days I'll find out...til then we'll double 4's them. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Maple Flavored Poffertjes: 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.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Trader Joe's Eggwich Breadless Breakfast Sandwich

Age old question time: which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In the case of Trader Joe's Eggwich Breadless Breakfast Sandwich, the answer is pretty clear to me: the chicken.

Huh?

Years ago, remember when KFC made waves with their sandwich using two slabs of fried chicken as the bun? If memory serves correctly, Taco Bell followed soon after with a fried chicken taco shell. While perhaps not the first ever entities to do so, I feel as though that's when the idea of using protein in place of carbs for sandwiches got introduced to the general public consciousness. That's straight spitballing with no research behind it whatsoever,so if I'm wrong I'm wrong, but I'm sticking to it...for now. 

Anyhoos, the TJ's eggwich. Love me a good breakfast sandwich, and while tough to screw up, they unfortunately can be. Just ask the new cafe by my workplace. Ugh. 

What struck me yet again about this kind of sandwich is how normal it all tasted. Like, the lack of carbs was scarcely noted. Certainly, a good bagel or croissant or whatever can add to the overall appeal of a sandwich, but when not there and everything else is good enough as is, their lack of presence really isn't a huge deal. 

That'd be the case here. First off, the eggs. Certainly, they're not as good as fresh-cracked ones, but for a frozen egg entity it'll do just fine. The egg pucks are a bit firm, to be sure, but not rubbery or chewy or anything, and not too un-egg-like to elicit much response. 

The turkey sausage and cheese are pretty standard issue, without much to note. If you want to add a little salsa or hot sauce to liven it up, by all means, go for it. As is, there's a nice little white pepper/black pepper to give the whole sandwich a little savory flair. It's all not all that greasy at all. 

I like 'em, as does my lovely bride. Apparently Costco sells a version of something similar to this which we neglected to price-check, so I'm not 100% sure of how great a deal that two of them for $3.99 is, but I know that's about what one breakfast sandwich costs most anywhere these days unless you're going off a drive thru value menu. So there's that. These sandwiches are very likely rebuy to help tide over on the busy mornings as school winds its way back up and I'm back in the office for my daytime job. Decent sandwiches for sure, so don't be too chicken to try 'em out!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Eggwich Breadless Breakfast Sandwich: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Trader Joe's Iced Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danish Strip

 Ah, vacation. Right?

My lovely bride and I say often we go on vacation to eat, and while mostly somewhat true, we have to attack our food game plan strategically. I mean, we only have so many dollars, and God knows enough kids, and trying to keep everyone more or less happy away from the familiarities of home is challenging at times...or often when it's 100 degrees in Washington DC like it was last week when we went...but anyways.

So, yes, we enjoy going out and checking different restaurants and bakeries and whatnots, but usually stop at a TJ's for some staples and easy treats, so while something like Trader Joe's Iced Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danish Strip would never make into our cart at home, it will when it means an easy, relaxing morning at the AirBnB. It had a pool...and chickens too! Sounds better than wandering and sweating aimlessly around the National Mall.

I mean, what can be said here. I think the pic really says it - you can basically taste it by looking it. There's nothing special or unique or amazing or anything here. It's a large, easily shareable Danish in strip form. So it's good...but great? 

Nah. The whole shebang is a bit thicker than I thought it'd be, so that's a good start - nobody likes a flimsy Danish. The crust itself is thick and layered and buttery and appropriately bready and flaky where needed, but all that needs more filling to balance out. here's where it falls short - not quite enough raspberry or cream cheese. Maybe 50% more of each would be perfect, so it's not like a smidge off. And it's a shame, because both those components are quite tasty - the jam is nice, sugary and tart, while the cream cheese is cool and creamy, and work well together as one would expect. All that icing atop is a good touch - maybe a touch less would be fine, but it's not worth making a fuss over as is. 

But anyways, for it being a grocery store breakfast treat more than large enough for the family, for like $5, instead of $8 slices of pie (delicious!), $5 popsicles (also tasty) or $6 cookies (also good) - all of which we also purchased while on our trip - we will take it and may buy again next time we're on the road. Double threes. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Iced Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danish Strip: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

p.s. - Unrelated to this post, I finally saw and bought a bottle of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Beer while away....never drank it....and accidentally left it in the fridge at the AirBnB. TJ's doesn't sell alcohol in my home state of PA. If anyone can somehow help me get a bottle please let me know - I really want to try one!



Monday, April 26, 2021

Trader Joe's Portuguese Custard Tarts


Ah, the Portuguese. First they gave us the man o' war, then they gave us Fado music, later Cristiano Ronaldo, and now these custard tarts. That's quite a legacy.

We have a couple of firsts here. The first first is that, at least as far as I can recall, this is the very first Trader Joe's product we've tried that's actually imported from Portugal. Sweet. I had an opportunity to go to Lisbon once, via train out of Madrid, Spain. I opted for Paris instead. Ah, well. Next time.

The second first is that, at least as far as I'm aware, TJ's is actually giving us air fryer heating instructions on the back of the package. About time. Sonia and I have been rocking a Ninja since Christmas time. You know that if Sonia and I, still attempting to live somewhat minimalistically, have jumped on that bandwagon, that it's high time you do too if you haven't already. Air fryers are friggin' awesome. I won't say this is the first Trader Joe's item we've heated in the air fryer, but I will say that it's the first time we're not just guesstimating times and temperatures and are actually following some real printed instructions...so we can blame Trader Joe's if it doesn't turn out all right.


I'm excited. Let's eat some tarts.

After heating, the tarts were just slightly darkened on the top, near where the custard intersects the breading. The smell wasn't very pungent. It was almost like a faint quiche type smell, by virtue of a very similar crust.

They were incredibly crumbly. The tarts seemed to want to fall apart upon taking a single bite out of them. They were almost explosive the way they flaked apart and spread crumbs all over the plate and surrounding tabletop. I wasn't sure whether to try eating them with a fork, pulling the tart from the little aluminum tray bite by bite, or whether I should just yank the whole thing out to attempt eating it by hand. Neither method was particularly successful at minimizing the crumb carnage. These are definitely not something to eat on the road while driving.


The custard was thick and surprisingly not too sweet. It was much more creamy and eggy than anything else. There's a warm, hearty, homemade quality to it. I'm sure if it were ever Americanized, they'd make the custard much sweeter. Not saying I'd prefer it that way, just pointing out that it's much more buttery than sugary.

$2.99 for four tarts. These would be pretty decent for either breakfast or an after-dinner dessert. They're like a little piece of Portugal right in your own air fryer. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

It doesn't seem all that long ago that being relegated to a gluten-free diet for any reason seemed to be a sentence for dry, weird, sawdusty, oddly starchy, or otherwise unpleasant substitutes for usual carby goodies like cakes and breads and whatnot. Seems to me I've tried a lot of them and ugh. For a guy who has no reason other than personal choice to avoid wheat, man, it was something I'd rather not do. 

Fortunately, for all the ways in which the world has not progressed over the years, there's some other ways in which they have. Overall quality of gluten free goodies is absolutely one of them, and I can think of no better example right now than Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins. 

My goodness. Admittedly, I'm not usually much of a muffin-munchin' man, but I know a good one when I taste one, and these are absolutely on point. They're soft and crumbly, a little springy and moist, with an almost melt in your mouth feel. Must be all the fats like sour cream and buttermilk...I mean, seriously, don't look at the nutritional label. Shoot, you looked. No, these are absolutely not health food. Just move along. 

Moving along - and the taste! Getting a good cinnamon cake taste profile down isn't exactly rocket science - brown sugar and cinnamon make such an easy dynamic duo - but there's still much to be appreciated when done well, and that's what we got goin' on here. There's these little cinnamon bits floating around all over the place, which when when tasted give this little extra cinnamony spark, with ample molasses-y brown sugar to back it all up. Deeelish. Combined with the super soft moist texture, these muffins are a real treat. 

Only drawback I can think of is the lack of much topping. I'd love a little crumb topping, or instead of that, having something like apple added in. I mean, these muffins are perfectly tasty alongside a steaming warm cup of coffee as one would imagine, or a cup of cool milk if you're like one of my kiddos, but just a little added extra element would really put them over the top. 

Regardless, kudos to TJ's for finding an incredibly good muffin. It's not just a good gluten-free muffin, it's a great muffin, period, with bonus points for being gluten free. There's always extra credit given to inclusion. Love 'em and for $4 might be tough to beat. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons