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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Trader Joe's Shrimp Tikka Masala


I don't know that I've ever had a tikka masala dish that I've disliked. Just from Trader Joe's alone, we've seen chickenpaneer, and vegan varieties, all of which were thumbs up. Shrimp is one of my favorite foods and always has been. As long as it's cooked properly, it's pretty hard to mess up shrimp, so the bar is set pretty high for this dish already. 

Like most of you, we haven't been eating out much lately. So I guess if anything, that lowers the bar a tad and makes us appreciate near-restaurant-quality microwave meals even more than usual. Hopefully we're giving this Shrimp Tikka Masala its fair shake. 

Anyway, Let's dive in.

I feel like they almost wanted to go with a flippable tray, a la those yogurts that come with mix-ins, but with the shrimp and sauce being flipped into the bed of cumin rice instead of cookie bits getting flipped into a bed of yogurt. The tray isn't quite that flexible, so you're left flicking the shrimps one by one into the other side. Fair enough.


There are about 8 or 10 small shrimp swimming around in a red sauce. For a frozen meal, their texture is about what you'd expect. Shrimp doesn't fare particularly well in the microwave, in my opinion, and these specimens were no better or worse than I expected—just a tad more chewy than steamed or fried shrimp would be. 

The sauce is a "mildly spicy tomato sauce" ...and that's what it tastes like. It's not particularly bursting with Indian spices or heat. It's a wee bit more complex and interesting than, say, tomato soup, but it struck me as being significantly less flavorful than any of the previous tikka masala dishes from Trader Joe's.

The rice here isn't the classic basmati rice we see in most of TJ's Indian food. This is "cumin rice." It's plain white rice...with some cumin seeds and coconut oil. So...pretty much just plain white rice.


I polished off the tray easily enough. Never gagged. Never grimaced at the flavor. But it didn't inspire any moments of bliss or euphoria, either. 

While I can't shaft it too badly, I'd put this near the bottom of the tikka masala pack and maybe even near the bottom of the list of Trader Joe's Indian food in general. That's not to say it's bad in any way. There's just a laundry list of other outstanding Indian foods at TJ's that I'll reach for before I pick up this particular selection again. Sonia sat this one out, citing an upset tummy as her reason for non-participation.

$3.49 for the single serving meal. Ready after 5-6 minutes in microwave.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Trader Joe's Organic Milk Chocolate Caramel Eggs

Not gonna lie. I've been sitting here for a while trying to figure out how to make this interesting and/or unique...can't.

So here goes: Trader Joe's Organic Milk Chocolate Caramel Eggs.

What all is there to know? Not much. Our TJ's trips are somewhat limited and "sustenance/mission-at-hand" focused these days. Can't blame us. Maybe there's new and exciting stuff. If there is, please tip us off!

Easter's coming up soon. Can't exactly cancel Easter. Eggs are somehow probably one the two biggest secularly acceptable symbols of Easter, second maybe only to the Easter Bunny that supposedly hides the eggs. Never really understood all that, but after a while, you just accept it.

I'll tell ya where the TJ candy eggs can hide, though. Right in my belly.

You probably get the whole concept here already. Typical milk chocolate shell surrounding a small resevoir of oozy goozy silky caramel. That's precisely what we have here. There's nothing all that special or unique or outstanding about them. Nothing horrible either - everything is of good quality, as one would expect.

Tasty? Absolutely. Delicious? Positively. A little bit too easy to eat a few more little guys than ya should? Guilty as charged.

Amazing and earth shattering and sure to change your whole world? Nah, fam.

As a small note, I will say I didn't even realize they were organic. There's still part of me that expects organic stuff to taste weird or odd or a little different or, like, happier or something. There's none of that. It just tatstes like regular ol' milk chocolate and caramel. I'd say that's a positive.

Well, there ya go. Hope to hit ya with something more exciting next time. I liked 'em, my kids loved 'em. My poor, lovely bride somehow managed to not even try one before they all disappeared. it wasn't all me, love, I swear! Not like ya missed all that much anyways. At a couple bucks for a bagful, it's not a bad little seasonal pick up for the ol' Easter basket, but should not be a focal point...save that honor for the jelly beans. Think I'll just say the eggs aren't bad and rate them appropriately.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Milk Chocolate Caramel Eggs: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Pappa al Pomodoro


Well, we know that in the last days a loaf of bread will cost a day's wage. When that day comes, it's time to go Mad Max on your neighbors to obtain some at any cost, because this stuff turns ordinary slices of white or wheat into scrumptious tangy tomatoey sourdoughy delights.

Just kidding about going Mad Max on your neighbors. We need to stick together now more than ever. But you should totally get down on your knees and beg them for a slice of bread if you don't have any, because it pairs really, really well with this stuff.

At first, I thought the box might contain a few pieces of bread or breadsticks, because look, right there adjacent to the soup...is a delicious-looking breadstick. But then I looked closer, and sure enough it says "serving suggestion" in the upper left-hand corner. But then I read the ingredients. Look! "Sourdough bread" is right there on the list right after "vegetable broth." I was overjoyed...until I opened the box several seconds later only to be crestfallen by the lack of sourdough breadsticks.


Maybe Italian folks already know this, but apparently pappa al pomodoro is a soup that's made with bread. I had no idea. What a weird concept.

But it's a darn good one.

After heating the product on the stovetop and pouring it into a bowl, Sonia and I sampled the soup by itself. It was very thick, tangy, tomatoey, and had just enough basil to balance the other flavors. I dipped a slice of semi-stale wheat bread into it.

Man, I don't know if I was just really hungry or what, but that was the best piece of bread I've eaten in a long time. The sourdough in the pappa al pomodoro seemed to magically transform my cheap, old bread into a scrumptious sourdough breadstick with an amazing Italian pasta sauce. We finished the bowl in short order, alternating bites of bread with spoonfuls of soup. Sonia was even more impressed than I was.

This fantastic pappa al pomodoro would work well as a pasta sauce, a pizza sauce, or as a stand-alone soup. $3.69 for two 9oz pouches. We like that it comes frozen and you can save it as long as you need to. We think this will be a repeat purchase. 

Perfect five from Sonia. I just wish it came with a couple little breadsticks. Four and a half from me.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.