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

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
 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Trader Joe's Muesli

I must have been about seven or eight years old at the time, but I remember seeing this random cereal commercial that captivated me for some reason. Most advertisements aimed at my age group employed colorful cartoon animals, goofy music, and dippy, childish tag lines, but this TV ad was different. There were European-looking people walking through old villages, misty vineyards and farm fields, and a gravelly-voiced narrator talking about wholesome foods and centuries old traditions.

As Sonia and I chomped away on this Trader Joe's Muesli for breakfast the other day, I tried to describe the commercial to her. I remembered it was "mueslix" with an "x" at the end but wasn't sure of the brand. Sonia didn't remember any such commercial from that era, so I set out to find it on the web so I could not only show it to her, but test the accuracy of my memory from 30+ years ago.

I found it in a matter of seconds. Here it is. Kellogg's Mueslix—which, apparently, they still make. Do any of you remember that commercial? It piqued my curiosity about "mueslix" or "muesli" and stuck with me for decades. It's almost exactly as I'd recalled it.


I'm fairly certain I've had Kellogg's Mueslix a few times in my life, as well as at least one other brand. This Trader Joe's version is pretty much on par with all the other mueslis, with perhaps a few changes and unique aspects. I like the use of "caramelized pear juice concentrate" as a sweetener. It's used subtly here. This cereal is not overly sweet at all. In fact, I wouldn't mind just a hint more of that pear juice as well as larger and more plentiful dried apple pieces. The raisins are represented adequately, however. I feel like dried apple pieces are a little bit more exciting than raisins, though, but I won't really complain.

I like pumpkin seeds okay, but wasn't thrilled to find them in this mix here. Sliced almonds were welcome but too scarce in my opinion. There's honestly just too much of the plain old oats. I mean, oats are great and all, but they need a little something to make them more exciting. We're not horses here, Trader Joe's. Also, I'm not sure coconut shavings belong in muesli. They seem a bit too exotic and out of place for something old-timey European folks could just grab out of a barrel and throw into their breakfast melange.


This muesli works as a plain cold cereal with milk or you can add it to yogurt and whatever to create some decent overnight oats. I'm sure it would be okay mixed with oat milk and heated in the manner of traditional oatmeal, too, although we declined to try it that way. If it's not quite sweet enough for you, it would mix well with a spoonful of honey or two.

It cost in the ballpark of four dollars if memory serves correctly. Can't find the receipt at the moment. The wifey liked it significantly more than I did. Three stars from me. Four from her.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Trader Joe's Grainless Granola

Years ago, when pretty gungho into the paleo diet, on a random Target trip I hit a major score: clearance sale on Renola, a grainfree granola, for like less than $3 a sack. Usually that was like $6 or $7! Needless to say, I cleaned them out, and had nothing but Renola to snack on for about six months. 

Somehow that's not as quite a find a memory as I thought it'd be, and kinda forgot about it 'til Trader Joe's Grainfree Granola came around. 

I haven't had Renola in ages (probable coping mechanism from overdose, much like since graduating college in 2003 I've eaten instant ramen noodles maybe 5 times), so a direct comparison is tough to do on my end, but there's much the same vibe.

The main base is comprised of three components: almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. In an act of what I presume to be black magic, all these get transformed into a a state of pretty close to real actual granola. There's got to be something more than just roasting them - the whole feel and experience is lighter and crispier than one would expect, almost as if it were more munchy than crunchy if that sounds right. It's phenomenal, and is imminently snackable right out of the bag and would work on yogurt. Big pieces, little dusties, in between pebbles, didn't matter. All the same bite, and all delicious. 

That's not it, though. Something has to hold all that together and give it a little oomph. And between some combination of cocnut, salt and chicory, hold together it does. That also provides the over-arching flavor - it's not quite sweet, not quite salty, and while "savory" seems to be much the wrong word, it still seems right in a way. There's just something to it, a certain I don't know what, that really provides the perfect flavor to a near perfect bite. 

All that being said, I can see myself getting quite tired of the grainless granola quickly. Just a little extra flavor component would be wondrous, or even just a different variety to go back and forth between. 

But then again, at $3.99, it's a heck of a value for what it is. Vegan, gluten free, all that...yup. 

Good stuff, check it out for sure. A few handfuls will hold you over for quite a bit, that's for sure. My lovely bride isn't a big a fan as I am, as the nutritional info kinda seems to be a bit much for such a compact product, if that makes sense. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Grainless Granola: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons



 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Trader Joe's Mini Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I'm not sure why there are so many tasty dunkables for coffee and tea in the world, but so few for energy drinks like Red Bull, for example. I wonder what an energy drink dunkable would even taste like. If I were an ambitious man, or if I knew anything at all about baking, food science, or grocery purchasing habits, I'd attempt to invent the first energy drink dunkable. It might not even be a pastry. It could be more like a pretzel, a stick of jerky, or maybe like a fruit-flavored candy cane. You'd swirl it around in your heavily-caffeinated, fizzy, sweet-tart energy beverage, and slurp the excess moisture off the end of the dunkable. It'd be fun and delicious. And energy drink consumers wouldn't feel like they're missing out on the dunk-it-in-your-drink party anymore. 

A reasonable person might insist that there's no need for energy drink dunkables. But then there's that George Bernard Shaw quote that I'm fond of recollecting when I'm acting ridiculous and self-indulgent: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Clearly, these biscotti were designed and formulated by very reasonable people, because they don't go well with energy drinks at all. Don't ask me how I know that. They honestly aren't even easy to eat all by themselves because of their hardness. They just beg to be paired with java. Fortunately, the wifey has an insulated cup of coffee on her work desk all day, every day. And after disappointing myself with silly experimental beverage and cookie pairings, I can always put on my big boy pants, pretend I'm an adult, and borrow her coffee for a dunk or two.

With coffee, these are pretty delicious. There's enough cranberry in them that you'll notice a few chewy berry remnants after the cookie part has dissolved in your mouth. You can taste the cranberry very well, too, although the chewiness was just slightly off-putting to Sonia. I was pleasantly surprised there was any noteworthy amount of actual cranberry in there at all.

The tops of the biscotti pieces are zig-zagged with happy vanilla icing. It just adds a hint of sugary sweetness. The bread itself isn't super sticky sweet, but it has a nice lightly nutty flavor. I don't feel like it's bursting with specifically pistachio flavor, but Sonia thinks the pistachio element was adequate.

We'll plow through this tub pretty quickly. $3.99 for the 9oz container. Four stars from the little missus. Three and a half from me for Trader Joe's Cranstachio Biscotti.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Trader Joe's Crunchy Almond Butter Puffs Cereal

A first impression is a lasting one. 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. 

And so on and so on with a few little pithy adages, but let's start off the new year with some initial impressions of the new Trader Joe's Crunchy Almond Butter Puffs Cereal. 

C'mon, that sounds awesome, right? Boom. First impression made.

Take a look at it, too. It's rice and quinoa based, so no gluten. And as a lowkey bonus, read the description: it's not just almond butter, which is tasty enough in its own right if not a tad plain...but also cocoa powder too! So this can be a healthyesque breakfast cereal that tastes like a buttercup maybe! This train is gaining some traction here. Choochoo!

But then hold the box, or even better, try to open it. The bag inside too. Perhaps the first clue that something is a bit off. The cardboard stock to make the actual cereal box is...odd. It's not the familiar type, but instead sturdier, glossier, stockier, more rigid. It feels odd. If you happen to take a look at the bottom flaps, you'd notice it's folded together, not glued and sealed. Kinda odd, but sturdy enough given the materials. But whatever glue was spared on the bottom was more than accounted for atop, as man, these flaps didn't want to open. There's some serious papercut potential here. But once you past that, you're finally on to the big boss: the bag. It's thicker and heavier and glued way tighter than it should for easy manual opening - I gave up and used scissors to avoid unnecessary cereal explosions all over the floor. lord knows my kids do enough of those themselves. 

Finally, take a bite. Or try to. These puffs are hard. "Crunchy" is an understatement. Looking thru ingredients, because it can't be just rice and quinoa..aha. Cassava flour, too. There it is. All those flours come together to make some sort of cereal kernel that's then coated in almond butter and rolled in cocoa powder. The result: a jaw-achingly crunchy cereal. Tired out my molars for sure, and if you'd think milk would soften it up, you'd be wrong. 

Speaking of milk...I'd say skip it altogether for these poundy puffs. Not only does it not really appreciably soften the crunch, but it seems to cover up all the taste, too. Indeed, if eaten more as a dry snack, the flavors come out a bit more: the earthy grains, the nutty almond butter, the little tastes of cocoa here and there. It's fairly subtle and actually pretty tasty without being too much of a sugarbomb. Delicious, really. While breakfast may be important, sometimes a snack is so much better.

So there you have it. It remains to be seen how often we'll pick up the almond butter puffs for the $4 or so it set us back. I'm definitely not in as love with them as I thought I would, but I don't horribly mind them either. Some matching threes sounds about right. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crunchy Almond Butter Puffs Cereal: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Sous Vide Egg Bites

You don't tug on Superman's cape.

You don't spit into the wind. 

You don't put no cottage cheese in your eggs.

And you don't mess around with Jim. 

That's how that song goes, right? Something like that? Close enough?

Honestly, I don't care what you do with your curds and eggs. I don't. I intentionally used a double negative so you can take it either way - the evoked versus the literal. But just keep them away from my eggs, please. As well as most anything else. Cottage cheese is just one food I never have and likely never will like unless snuck by me somehow. 

And for that reason, Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Sous Vide Egg Bites are a no go for me

From the first bite, I could tell there was something in these egg pucks that was something pretty akin to cottage cheese. Eggs aren't naturally this fluffy and soft - I mean, sure the sous vide cooking method certainly helped, but there that textural element, along with a slight, low-key tang. I knew it. Cottage cheese, second ingredient. From the tast of things, there's almost as much cheese as there is egg! My lovely bride said she didn't notice that at all. I'm speechless. 

The TJ's egg plops come fully cooked but chilled as, you know, eggs. There's two recommended ways of heating them up - in the over for 10 to 12 minutes or the microwave for a minute. We made them both ways - oven on left, microwave on right. They look about the same coming out of the package as they do when they're ready to eat - fairly unappetizing to me. No comment on how their looks may progress from here. 


From the oven, they're a bit firmer but not by appreciably much. There's also the slight browning, and the added wonderment of why I spent nearly 15 to 20 minutes heating a precooked egg in the oven instead of just cracking and cooking one in less than half the time. The microwaved one was definitely softer and greasier, as one may expect. 

Everything else about them is pretty much meh. Turkey bacon never has and never will get it done in my book. The cheddar was typical, and the flavor of the herbs and spices pretty muted. A little hot sauce or some bomba would have helped, but of course those are add-ons to and not features of the original product. 

So yeah, not a fan. Sandy likes 'em a bit more. Apparently on the Interwebs folks say there's a lot of similarities between the sous vide eggers and an offering from Starbucks, which she's had but not me. The TJ's are larger and softer, and also cheaper but still not cheap at the middling $3.50 to $4 mark for a two pack. At that revelation, Sandy said she could go on Amazon and find a egg mold that could make these for breakfast sandwiches for us for like $10, so she wouldn't buy this TJ's offering unless in a pinch for a warm meal-like non-soup substance for work. I wouldn't buy the mold or the bites or anything like these guys again - just no. Not for me. Nah. Nuh uh. I'll be nice and give them a one while Sandy will be a bit higher but not by all that much. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Sous Vide Bites: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons

 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Trader Joe's Ginger Turmeric Granola

"It is frequently asserted that somewhere between 75 and 95 % of what we commonly think of as taste actually comes from the sense of smell. However, empirical evidence in support of such a precise-sounding quantitative claim is rarely, if ever, cited."

So says no less an authority than the Flavour Journal. They sound pretty legit, or legit enough to be the top result if you Google something like "how much is smell a part of taste," so you know what? I'm just gonna roll with it. Makes sense - if I'm a little stuffed up, food doesn't seem to have the same flavor as it usually does, but that's not to say that smell is the only, or sometimes even the most reliable, indicator of taste. 


Mentioning all of this because of Trader Joe's Ginger Turmeric Granola, in the slight offchance you haven't gotten that figured out by now. In my legitimately faulty memory, I'm not sure if I've even been taken aback so much by the initial aroma of a product when first opening the package, just because of it being so unexpected. This granola smells strong and pungent and, well, super-de-duper gingery. Add in some wafts of turmeric (it's palpable) and it's almost more like a curry-type smell. There's no other option for it to smack the ol' olfactories, which is really kinda bizarre to say for a granola, of all things.


Yet...that's not exactly how the taste plays out.


Both the ginger and the turmeric seem to be held in check by the earthy crunch of the rolled oats, and the respective sweetnesses of the brown rice syrup and coconut pieces balance it all out pretty well. That's not to say that some ginger burn doesn't sneak thru here or there, because it does, but not as much as I presumed from initial impression. The turmeric adds more of a warmth than a flavor punch as well. 

As proof it can't be strongly spicy or harsh or anything, my youngest kiddo likes it. She's the first to blush at anything remotely spicy. If she can handle it, so can you. 


As it's getting cooler finally and summer fades into fall, I kinda see this being a seasonal kinda treat. It tastes autumnal without going the pumpkin spice or maple route. Splash in some milk, add some banana, sprinkle in some yogurt...you know, however you usually do yogurt and it'll likely work just fine. I'd recommend giving it a try for the $4ish bucks it set back, and hopefully you'll find it up to snuff as well. 


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ginger Turmeric Granola: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons  

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Corn & Green Chile Pepper Quiche


I've been watching a bunch of 80's movies on Amazon Prime lately. What a weird decade. I mean, it was so carefree compared to today. Everything was loud and goofy, from music to clothing to hairstyles. It's such a stark contrast to 2020, which is why I've been finding it so refreshing to bask in all the gaudy glory of 1980's American cinema. Plus, there's not a lot I want to see in the way of new stuff right now, and it still costs $20 just to rent the third installment of Bill and Ted.

Also from the 80's: a book called Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. I mean, it's apparently satirizing the idea that certain things are more masculine to consume than others, but still...I must admit I don't know many dudes obsessed with quiche. In defense of my own masculinity: the three quiches I've reviewed on this blog represent more than half the quiche I've consumed in my entire lifetime. And so far, all of those specimens have fallen into a kind of "take it or leave it" status with me and the wifey.


As is standard for a quiche, this one's primarily made of eggs. I heated ours for 25 minutes in the oven rather than the microwave, and the insides came out surprisingly mushy, especially when one considers the outsides were extremely crispy. I know quiche should be soft, but I felt like the insides had an excess of moisture and the outsides were, if anything, a little too dry. 

Sonia pointed out that there was a decided lack of veggies, corn in particular, in the filling. We were expecting a whole bunch of corn kernels as well as more substantial chunks of chile, too. I guess we were pining for a sort of savory corn and veggie pie rather than a quiche.

Flavor-wise, it's eggy and quichey—not overly salty, sweet, or cheesy. It begs for a little help, honestly. Some salsa and/or hot sauce is definitely in order here. We had no trouble finishing it, but for two thirds of your daily saturated fat and 98% of your cholesterol, I was hoping for just a tad more piquancy. More green chile peppers would have unquestionably made it more memorable for Sonia and me.

$4.99 for the 9 oz quiche. Probably not a repeat purchase for us. Three stars a piece.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

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