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Monday, February 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Sumatra Coffee Brownies


Ugh. Don't you just hate that word?

"Moist" doesn't bother me too much (I'm more bothered by double negatives and the word "notate" not being used to mean composing musical score), but man, most people hate the word. It's kinda a big thing. Eh well. To each their own, and if you're part of the moist-hating crowd, so be it.

Too bad so many people hate the word "moist" because it's a great word to describe the perfect brownie...and very apt to describe Trader Joe's Sumatra Coffee Brownies.

If you like dried up crusty corner brownies, stay away. These sumatra brownies are super moist in the most perfect of brownie ways...thick and fudgy and rich. Soft. Chewy. And definitely not dry in the least. It's almost like they were brought out of the over a few minutes early.

Yet by some odd mad science of baking, there's a perfectly crispy outer shell layer. The crust is perfect, just thick enough to hold the whole shebang together without getting your fingers messy, with only the smidgiest smidge of grease, with a little coffee dust (presumably) on top.

And taste...oh man. I've already used the word "rich" and that is an understatement. Very chocolatey, in a very deep way. The coffee element is a little more subtle, but definitely present. It'd probably be enough to have the kiddos make a face, even if you were one to give them a coffee-laced sugar hit - hey, I don't judge.

There's so little to not like. I can't think of much. One brownie is more than enough for Sandy and I to share - only a few bites is just enough and not too much. Which will bring me to the one odd point, because hey, it's TJ's were talking about...the packaging. Four brownies inside the bag, and they're packaged in twos - why not either each seperately, or all together? By twos seems odd. No matter.

Not much else to say. For these little moist morsels, there's nothing I can notate that's not good. We've had them three nights in a row now and still can't find a single complaint. Perfect fives from the wife and me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sumatra Coffee Brownies: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trader Joe's Cauliflower & Broccoli Vegetable Patties

So...I guess this goes as a companion to the Carrot and Pea Patties review from earlier this week, since they're exactly the same product, except with different vegetables. Here, we have exciting white hockey pucks...white, with green flecks. These browned up a little more nicely than their peas and carrots counterpart, and they were a little firmer overall. To me, they tasted a little more like cauliflower than broccoli. To Sonia, they tasted a little more like broccoli than cauliflower.

We both liked them about the same as their orange brethren, but if either Sonia or I were forced at gunpoint to choose a favorite, we both said carrot and pea would win by a tad, despite quite a few reader comments to the contrary.

I think I liked the orange fellows just a little better because of the onions. I love me some onions. Often, the presence of onions makes one watery-eyed, but in this case, the lack of onions made me cry. Not really—it wasn't a dealbreaker, since we gobbled these guys up just as quickly as those oniony hombres.

If the aforementioned carrot and pea patties made good breakfast burrito filling, then these would be slightly more adept at making an actual sandwich. We tried stirring chunks of this product into tomato soup and were pleased with the results, and we've heard it makes a good topping for a salad. With both these patties and the carrot and pea variety, mild cheeses and avocado slices were nice additions to sandwiches and burritos, but the products can stand alone just fine, unless you're some kind of vegetable-hater. 

They're the same price: $1.99 for four, and they come frozen. I highly recommend heating on the stove top with olive oil rather than in the oven, as the product tends to dry out a little too much that way. If you've got any other preparation/serving suggestions, fire away in the comments section. Once again, four stars from Sonia, four stars from me.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trader Joe's Ditalini Pasta + Cheddar Cheese + Cauliflower + Kale (=Best Mac and Cheese, Ever)

My mother freely admits to having "punishment meals" for us kids growing up. By this, she means if we were acting up one day, and she had enough, she made sure to make something for dinner she'd like and we'd all hate. For days full of extra shenanigans, she'd pull out the big guns: tuna casserole. We all HATED it, chief reasons among them being canned tuna, which I always associated with my cat scarfing up then barfing everywhere. Still can't even bear the smell of it.

The details of the exact day have been lost to time and memory, but the ramifications have not: The day that I suggested that instead of regular tuna casserole, my mom instead put that canned kitty emetic into her homemade mac and cheese. Homemade mac was a capital-T Treat in our house. Still is. And whether out of my relative innocence, her maternal instinct of mercy, or perhaps her reluctance of making her devilish kids choke down a dinner so maybe we'd all just go to bed earlier, she obliged. It was awful. And then she kept making mac and cheese every time that way. A family classic, ruined.

Another way that, as a kid, I thought mac and cheese could get spoiled is by adding in veggies. Now, as a child, I was strangely okay with spinach...but kale? Cauliflower? No and no. Not gonna happen. I would have begged for tuna over those, I'm sure.

Not so much these days. Here's to Trader Joe's Ditalini Pasta + Cheddar Cheese + Cauliflower + Kale (=Best Mac And Cheese, Ever). PEMDAS headscratching aside, it sounds awesome...doesn't it? Gotta give it a try for $4.99 for a large 1.25 pound tub, large enough for several lunches.

If it could last that long....

This mac isn't earthshattering or lifechanging or anything....but it's the best I've had commercially available, for sure.  Pretty tasty all the way around. I wish the cheddar cheese sauce was a little sharper, with a little more distinction, but it's very creamy and subtly spiced with herbs like dillweed and garlic. It hits the right oozy comfort spots that adding anything like hot sauce or anything more than maybe a dash of black pepper would seem a sin. Warm gooey cheese can do a soul right, can't it? The cauliflower is steamed yet firm, al dente-ish, and is present in enough bites to add a good textural variant without being overbearing. And honestly, it's kinda easy to overlook the kale too - which is a compliment to the rest of the dish. it's soft and completely unobtrusive and inconspicuous. Ditalini pasta is basically elbow chopped up into smaller carbo-tube chunks -  I would have preferred perhaps a heartier noodle like rotini - but no real complaints there either.

Both Sandy and I enjoyed a few bites as a side dish over our lunch at my workplace. Even B, our youngest, got in a few bites and gave it a two thumbs up. M, our older daughter, wasn't that impressed (I'm thinking it's the sight of the kale) and skipped trying it, which hey, more for us then. Sandy was a tad disappointed at the presence of the chunks of cauliflower, as she thought it'd be more of a pureed-in variety, thus using less cheese and making it somewhat more healthy so she feel less guilty about eating it...if that makes sense. Does it, or have I gone mad? I don't know. She gave it a three and a half. I'll go in a little higher - for me, the only real thing that could ruin it is tuna. Thankfully none here.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ditalini Pasta + Cheddar Cheese + Cauliflower + Kale (=Best Mac and Cheese, Ever): 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons.