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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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trader Joe's Carrot & Pea Vegetable Patties

She may have simply been trying to upsell me, which is uncharacteristic for a TJ's employee, but the checkout lady suggested I try these patties with sweet chili sauce, implying that their flavor wasn't particularly pleasant on their own. I politely declined, mainly because I didn't want to lose my place in line, but I got to thinking, "these patties must be really bland." Later, I found a comment or two online supporting that sentiment. Uh oh. Let's have some hot sauce on stand-by, just in case.

Next morning, I woke up hungry. Lacking other breakfast options, I decided to brave these veggie patties for my morning meal. I opted for the stove top heating method. I readied my skillet with a bit of olive oil and opened the package to hockey pucks. Not especially enticing. Not particularly appetizing. But I proceeded nonetheless.

After a full 12 minutes on medium heat, my patty began to brown. It had sopped up all but a few drops of the above-mentioned olive oil and was looking far more edible than it had straight out of the box. I decided to try it sans condiments. I braced myself for disappointment...and perhaps even disgust...

But what I tasted were all the ingredients of a delicious breakfast burrito, minus the tortilla, all smooshed together in a little round veggie patty. Not sensational, but not unpleasant in the slightest. Eggs, potatoes, onions...and of course peas and carrots, all right there, toasty warm and pre-seasoned with a dash of salt and pepper. I mean, the olive oil certainly helped, too. But I didn't even feel the need for hot sauce. In fact, I tried it with a little Tapatio later on, and sure, it gave the veggies a nice hot kick, but honestly, I preferred the patty plain. I did wrap it in a soft flour tortilla and made a proper burrito, but I was quite happy to let this product stand on its own.

Texture-wise, there were small pieces of soft carrots and peas, and all the other ingredients were scarcely more than an indiscriminate mush. But as a breakfast burrito, it worked. It didn't want to keep its puck-like circular shape at all. It wanted to fall all to pieces—just another reason to serve it in a tortilla, if you ask me. When it comes to food, Mexican-Americans are very practical people. And being married to one has its almost always having hot sauce and/or some sort of tortillas on hand.

Would this product work as a veggie burger? No way. It's not hearty enough. It's not firm enough. It certainly wouldn't pair well with traditional burger condiments. And there's absolutely no indication that this product is trying to imitate meat. Not even fake meat. But as a breakfast burrito-filler substitute, it's got my seal of approval. Less than $2 for four patties? This might even be a repeat purchase. Sonia liked it too, and she remarked that it was much more flavorful than she expected it to be. Double fours here.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter

Alongside cheap fastfood breakfast sandwiches and Shamrock Shakes, peanut butter is a weakness of mine. God, I love peanut butter. If I had to choose one food I had to eat every day for the rest of my life, a big ol' jar of Jif would be under heavy consideration. My hypothetical decision may rest on whether not different varieties of tacos could be considered or not. Anything you can put peanut butter in...heck, I've even had peanut butter on a burger and peanut butter beer, and have loved them all. Chances are if I'm raiding a kitchen late at night, I got PB on the mind.

This committed infatuation just doesn't extend over to other nut butters for me. I've dabbled in almond and cashew, and they're okay, but in the end, they taste like settling for a subpar burger when I could be having steak. Maybe it's partially because the words "nut butter" just don't sound right to me. I have the mind of a fifth grader, apparently.

So, forgive me for not being overly enamored with Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter. It's not a bad mix, at all - as you can see, almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecans - kinda akin to a high quality mixed nut canister. No peanuts in their pseudo-nut/really-actually-legume ways.

First turn off: the consistency. It's oily and drippy and saucy, even after refrigeration. There's a reason I mentioned Jif uptop: that thick, sticky, smooth feel? That's what I like, even if that's not always indicative of a "good" or "healthy" butter. But even by other butter standards, this goop seems thin and faintly gritty, with a fine sand-like feel. Meh.

And, despite all the nuts listed, I really can only taste two: almonds and cashews. Maybe  a little walnut here and there. Maybe. But it's primarily those two nuts, with a little salt, tasting all roasty and earthy and a bit dry and whatnot, but if you're hoping to taste all the nuts here, you're probably not going to.

All that being said, I think it's alright. A good breakfast/late night snack for me is an apple with some peanut butter, and this butter makes fine substitute. My wife Sandy made some chick pea blondies-dessert type deal* with half a cup of it scooped in, and it worked great for that - much more delicious than it sounds at first. So fluffy! And I'll admit to having one or two extra tastes right before writing this in the name of "making sure what I report is accurate."

Not perfect. Can use more taste of other nuts, and if given the choice, I would have preferred more of a chunky version. But not bad either. If I keep up with the apples and nut butter thing for breakfast, that can reduce my chances of going through the drive thru for a couple McGriddles and a shake...which would be awful(ly awesome) and my healthier breakfast is more satisfying anyways (or so I'll tell myself). I'll be fair and toss a three at it, and same goes for the wife.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mixed Nut Butter: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Pear & Persimmon Tarte

My father is getting married today. Never thought I'd live to see the day. He clearly doesn't share my disdain for Valentine's Day, but even I must admit that V.D. is just as good a time as any to tie the knot. 

I just hope the happy couple's commitment to one another transcends the triviality of this silly holiday. Sonia and I don't know his new bride particularly well, but we trust the old man knows what he's doing.

It's kind of like pears and persimmons. We both know pears like the back of our hands, but persimmons are a bit more of a mystery to us. Can the couple work together? 

In this case, yes they can. Sonia and I shared this tarte as a romantic non-Valentine's treat. We both enjoyed it. We tasted the sweetness of the pears in the filling, but we had a hard time picking out the taste and texture of the persimmons. 

I tried to pull my old Wikipedia trick where I read a paragraph or two and try to sound like an expert when I regurgitate the knowledge in my own words on this blog. Either my brain isn't functioning at full capacity today or this particular Wikipedia contributor just went above and beyond what the average layman wants to know about persimmons, but there was just too much talk of tannins, astringency, and bletting to wrap my brain around at this juncture. But if you want to give it a shot, be my guest: Persimmon - Wikipedia.

What I can tell you is that this tarte is tasty. The crust is buttery and soft, and the filling is sweet and fruity. There are chunks of pears and, we assume, persimmons as well. There was even "spiced frangipane" almond paste in the breading. It was most noticeable in the outer sections where the fruit filling was more sparse. Nutty, sweet, and delicious.

It's a very high quality tarte at a very reasonable price ($1.99). An hour to thaw and 10 minutes in the oven? Even I can do that...and I did. In fact, that's my hand in that oven mitt. Sonia's proven her worth in the kitchen many, many times over, but I'm still a little challenged in the field of "domestic sciences."

I guess the takeaway here is that unexpected couplings can work. Pears and persimmons are just like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. 

Plus, Happy Valentine's if you're into that whole thing. And congrats to Dad and Patty.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp

It should be pretty simple, really. Read a food package, have a reasonable understanding of what's inside and what it would taste like. Or read the ingredients or nutrition label, and figure out if it's a product you should/want to eat or not. That's not so easily always the case, of course, and I'm not talking about personal error to cause a misjudgement (though those rolls were still gross). Just last week I reviewed Trader Joe's Honey Butter Chips, and made mention of the bag stating 70 calories per serving. That caused several readers to report seeing signs at their local TJ's stating they were actually 150 calories per serving. Upon further reflection, a label error makes more sense than chips made from more or less the usual ingredients having half the caloric value of their fried spud brethren. Doesn't make that any less frustrating, of course.

Here's a less devious example: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp.

Should be easy, right? Honey. Walnuts. Shrimp. I know what all those taste like separate, and can imagine what they would be like altogether, and my mental tongue thinks its delicious. Can't be much more straightforward than that.

So why do I taste nothing but pineapple?

Well, yes, the walnuts and shrimp are also present, and obviously so, but the honey? Not so much. It's there as a subtly sweet lingering flavor, in a delicious manner, but the overarching taste by far is pineapple. It totally takes over the milky sauce that, like other similar TJ's products, comes in a separate packet to defrost and pour over/mix in the shrimp. Unlike most other TJ's products, there's actually more than enough sauce, enough to leave a veritable puddle, instead of the usual just-barely-enough portions. Wish we had some cauliflower rice on hand to help sop all that up, because it's pretty tangy, sweet, and know, like a pineapple should be, at the expense of honey flavor that I'd be hardpressed to discern if I didn't know to look out for it.

It's all pretty good otherwise. The shrimp baked up extremely well in the oven, and were firm and fresh with a crispy tempiura batter that held up well in the sauce. TJ's got that down to a science. The walnuts were a little sparse, but when present added a little earthy crunch. Pretty tasty overall, but only if you like pineapple.

Sandy swears this is very similar to a dish we ate two years ago at a Chinese New Year celebration we attended. I'll take her word for it...I can barely remember dinner from two days ago, let alone two years ago on a night we were served about 20 different dishes. It was about $6 or $7 for the shrimp, and was ample enough portion for us two adults, so a good value compared to take out/delivery. We both enjoyed it quite a bit, but really, a more accurate product name would be Pineapple Walnut Shrimp, which sounds just as delicious to me. What say you?

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Honey Walnut Shrimp: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, February 10, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Raspberry and Apple Apricot Dried Fruit Bars

Just in case Trader Joe is neglecting to push his latest offerings on me in the checkout area like Heisenberg peddling a fresh batch of Blue Ice, every once in a while, I like to glance at that little out-of-the-way section where most Trader Joe's stores like to stash their inexpensive fruit bars, fruit leather, and fruit snacky type things, often in a rustic wooden rack or small woven baskets. That's where I discovered these Apple Raspberry and Apple Apricot Dried Fruit Bars.

We've seen quite a few incarnations of these fruit strips throughout the years, including: Fiberful Handmade Dried Fruit Bars, Organic 100% Natural Fruit Wraps, and several different Apple + Fruit bars. Here's our take on this newest gluten-free, kosher version, straight outta New Zealand (you'd think they'd offer Apple Kiwi flavor, no?)

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Honey Butter Flavored Potato Chips

 With so much drama with these HBCs
It'll be kinda hard eating the whole B-A-double-G
But, somehow, some way
I keep munchin these funky lil chips like every single day...

Whoo boy, let's just stop while we're somewhat ahead. Sorry if this disappoints, but no more rap parodies here. Least not with Snoop Dogg....too much "creative editing" involved.

So let's just talk some Trader Joe's Honey Butter Flavored Potato Chips.

Lots of different crazy chip flavors out there, and apparently, honey butter chips (HBCs if you're into the whole acronym thing) were a craze a year or three ago that I, in typical me fashion, completely missed out on. But TJ's to the rescue! Now if they could only also sell Game of Thrones DVDs so I can see what that whole fuss is about.

But honestly, if these chips are a representative of most honey butter chips, I don't see what the huge fuss is/was. There's nothing really particularly standout about them, and in fact, taste downright odd. The only reason I kept eating them was because I was first kinda repulsed, then somewhat intrigued, followed by kinda bewildered, and finally indifferent.

This is basically how the flavor goes: initial hit of creaminess, like a sour cream based chip without the inherent tanginess, followed by either a semi-salty or kinda faintly sweet hit. There is a honey flavor, but light, definitely subtle. Absolutely, um, "laid back." And not present at every bite, so there's an uneven aspect at play here, especially when the first hits of butteriness fade away. More often than not, it seems like the flavor just kinda divebombs away, and somehow the remaining chip taste seems almost bitter while still faintly sweet at the same time. The fine folks who developed these chips need to put their mind on the honey, and the honey on their mind to make a better chip.

Sorry, that was just a little too easy.

Anyways, the chips are crispy, munchy, okay for a snack but won't trigger a selfgorging. Which is a plus. Also: check out them calories. Only 70 for a typical 1 oz serving?** I checked another bag of chips Sandy's mom had around - over twice as many for same size serving. So another plus.

Honestly, in the end, I'm not entirely sure what to think of them. Neither is Sandy. There's no love or hatred...just kinda indifference. I won't tell you to not try them, but there's no sense storming the TJ castle for the honey chips either. Which is kinda disappointing to me - I wanted to love them, but nah. Matching threes from us.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Honey Butter Flavored Potato Chips: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

**UPDATE!: One of our Facebook fans reported seeing a sign at their local store stating the calorie info was mislabeled on these bags, and the chips are actually more in the typical150 calories/serving range. Does anyone have more info about this?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Trader Joe's English Butter Fudge

Ah, there's nothing more American than the Superbowl. And there's nothing like a classic American snack such as English Butter Fudge to pop in your mouth while watching the big game. Amirite?

Had we consumed the entire box of candy during the course of the game, we wouldn't have slept Sunday night, nursing massive sugar buzzes, and we'd have necessarily sought out urgent dental care Monday morning.

Fortunately, we stopped after just two pieces each. 

It's not that the candy tastes bad. Not at all. It just sits a little heavy in the stomach, what with the two main ingredients being "sugar" and "salted butter." It's like the British equivalent of maple candy, except instead of maple syrup there's salty, sugary butter. The overall effect is pretty smooth, but there's just the slightest hint of grittiness from the granules of salt and sugar. 

Sonia says they're similar in texture to De La Rosa Mazapan, and she's not wrong. Taste-wise, they're similar to the marzipan/mazapan too, although there's nothing peanutty about this Anglo-confection. And in case you were wondering, yes, this product is actually imported from Merry Olde England.

You can really taste butter here. And if you like butter, that's a good thing. Butterrific. 

Brits apparently really like butter. And I like Brits. So polite, those English folk. By now I'm sure my artistic rendering of Butterfudgehenge has caught your eye. That's for you, Great Britain. Hope you guys get that NFL team soon. Then maybe I'll cross the Atlantic to see my Redskins lose to your Monarchs or whatever they'll be called some day.

Sonia gives this candy four stars. I'll go with three and a half.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables

Ladies and gentlemen, from the team that last Friday brought you Organic Tricolor Quinoa, this Friday we present...Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend!

...with Vegetables!

Man, do we know how to get our audience primed for the weekend or what?

All kidding aside, have you tried Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables? Is this new? Newish? No idea. But it's never been on our menu until this past week, and if it's been around for a while, I really, truly regret not discovering it sooner.

It's a ridiculously simple concept. Even easier to make. And it's gooo-ooo-oood. 

Take a smattering of some different grains - barley, corn, wheat. Add in some assorted rices - ermes, ribe and venus (or in layman's terms, red, Italian long grain, and black). Logically, what this creates is a solid, hearty base, a real stick-to-your-ribs concoction that's earthy and nutty with different pockets of texture here and there, yet seem generally cohesive in the end. It's a pretty delectable hodgepodge in its own right, especially with a little salt and EVOO added giving a slightly buttery taste.

The veggies mixed in are of the typical freezer variety - peas, carrots, zucchini, onion - which help lighten and freshen up the overall vibe some. It's all good quality stuff, for the most part, and goes well with the aforementioned grains.

It comes fully cooked as is, so all you gotta do is let it defrost for a while. Just leave something on the counter? I usually get yelled at for stuff like that....but that's the actual dinner prep! Nice!

We neglected to take a picture of the actual product, most unfortunately, but save for the cilantro/parsley spring depicted, the final dish looks pretty exactly like what's on the picture on the bag. Which points to my one, smallish complaint: Instead of salt for flavoring, I'd prefer something more herbal. Do you really need added sodium to make things taste good? Na!

Regardless, I loved it. I scraped my plate clean, then unabashedly devoured what my kids left on their plate too. My wife Sandy enjoyed as well. The grain blend is definitely going into our dinner rotation. For my enjoyment, I'm going 4.5 while Sandy slides in a little lower at a 4. Now do we know how to party or what?

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Multigrain Blend with Vegetables: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trader Joe's Raspberry Hearts

In general, I've always disliked Valentine's Day—or as a friend of mine always referred to it,  "V.D." I hated the shallow sentimentality of the season, the kitschy cupid cut-outs on doors, and the mandatory mass consumption of mediocre candies and chocolates. It didn't help that, until I got married, I spent the majority of my Valentine's Days without a significant other. Sonia was the same way. And she's most definitely NOT a candy/stuffed animal/red rose kind of gal. So when we married, we merged our mutual disdain for the "Hallmark Holiday" and scarcely celebrated it except for a meal and a movie, mostly out of a misplaced sense of obligation to one another—it was basically just a decent excuse to splurge on some special food and drinks. general, we've never been Valentine's people. 

But my absolute least favorite thing about the holiday has always been the anatomically-inaccurate and ridiculously clichéed abundance of hearts. Pink and red hearts everywhere. Blah.

However, this year I'm trying to look at Valentine's hearts with new eyes. After seven and a half years of marriage and more than our fair share of challenges, I'm trying to see hearts as emblems of that soulful dedication to one another rather than the hollow symbols of romantic love (read: lust) that I always took them for in the past. So...I won't hold their silly shape against these Valentine's confections.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that they are indeed highly noshable. It's not immediately apparent, but they're actually sandwich cookies made with bakery-quality shortbread and sweet raspberry jelly in the middle. The shortbread is soft and crumbly, and there's a nice rich, almost buttery quality to them, but they're not oily as some shortbread can be. The jelly is more stiff than an actual raspberry jam, but not as stiff as, say...taffy...or most chewy candy. The two elements work well together, and at least in our case, everything tasted remarkably fresh.

I think there were 18 cookies in the box. They weren't marked with a price on the baked goods table, so I just blindly threw them into my basket. I wasn't thrilled when they came up at $4.99, but I figured, "What the heck? We can always try them and return them if they're not worth the money." But since Sonia liked them at least as much as I did, I'd have to say they were worth the money. 

February is here. It's one of the coldest months of the year. But if you look up, you'll see the sun's much higher in the sky and the hope of spring is just around the corner. It's the perfect time for lovers to cling to one another to survive that final winter storm. When rations are running low and faith comes at a premium, what else do we have to pull ourselves through but each other?

That is to say: it's all about soul. And when I say soul, I mean heart.

Matching fours.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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