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Monday, February 11, 2013

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookies

So there we were, Sandy and I, mulling over all the frozen seafood options for Lent, when I just so happened to look over my shoulder at precisely the proper angle just as the crowds parted and harp chords played. It's as if it were meant to be. There it was, in big, bold, beautiful letters, with stylish packaging, just sitting on the shelf, waiting there, made for me and me only. I can only wish the lighting were a tad less fluorescent and a little more dramatic. Regardless, there it was, that delicious word, speculoos. There was no question that Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookies were an automatic purchase.

Sandy and I are on an unfortunate cookie losing streak when it comes to comes to our favorite grocery store. It finally pushed us to the brink where we gave in and finally bought that crazy cookie butter all you kids are always, endlessly raving about. That's lived up to its billing (cookie butter + Nutella = ohmanohmanohmanohman!!!!). If these cookies were to somehow fail, I'd probably never buy cookies ever again.

Well....we're not going to have to worry about that. Oh goodness. In my life I have somehow failed to enjoy the treasures that Biscoff cookies. I guess I've never flown Delta. Sandy has, though, and she ensures me these are pretty much exactly the same. I can only vouch that they taste just like the famed and renown cookie butter, except in crispy wafer form. If you know the cinnamony, gingerbready goodness of which I speak, then you know exactly what these taste like. Let there be no trace of disappointment. For that brief moment of peace and tranquility, hazelnut latte in the mug and these cookies in hand, it was as if Sandy and I were no longer in our teeny little house in the middle of Pittsburgh listening to Baby M snoring on the monitor with a load of laundry needing to be changed in the basement, but instead were transported to a European cafe on a cobblestone street, just the two of us with no other cares in the world. Okay, that's a bit of an overstatement, but not by too much.

At first, the only ever-so-slight adjustment I'd say that I'd like if the texture were a tad more shortbread-like. But then I dunked mine in the hazelnut latte Sandy whipped up. Nope. Perfect. The crispiness was perfect and held up to the latte bath. There's nothing bad to say.

Sandy's perfectly happy with them. When I asked for her opinion, she automatically said something to the effect of "Five. No question. Five." Whatever she actually said kinda got lost in our collective satisfied Mmms. I'm trying to come up with something, anything that can keep me from giving these a five as well. I can't. Too darn good. Well done, Trader Joe's, well done.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookies: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons   

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Trader Joe's House Whip and Trader Joe's Greek Style Yogurt

Alright, I'll admit it, I'm scrounging a little here for some review matter. It's not entirely my fault. As part of some healthy eating kick the wifey and I are on, we're buying less prepackaged TJ's stuff, and especially we've cut down on all the tasty treats we used to gorge ourselves on. It's working. But then there's less selection from our grocery basket, unless you want to read about my thoughts about an apple or a bag of carrots. That's boring. From our last trip, I was thinking about two things in particular, but found out that Nathan had already reviewed some wasabi snacks, nixing that. No matter, we still had this new-fangled candy bar...except I spent too much time deedling and dawdling about what to write and how to work in some whole bit about kids and dinosaurs and this random Family Guy clip (true story) that Nathan swooped in and reviewed the new-ish PB&J chocolate bar before I could. Consider yourself spared. We've scrounged once or twice for review matter in the past, so I guess here goes my turn.

I'm left with two kinda boring, kinda plain products. However, I have a recommendation for both of them that you might not expect. I'm usually not one to give out cooking tips, leaving it to the pros who wrote the TJ cookbooks, but this is what I'm resorting to here.

First, let's go with Trader Joe's House Whip. Hmm, it's organic cool hwip. That's right, cool hwip. That's how I've been saying it around Sandy just to yank her chain. It drives her crazy. I don't know why. Anyways, I'm not usually a cool hwip kinda guy, and don't even get me started on that nasty spray junk from a can. But I like this. First, it's organic, and that's cool. Sandy says it shades towards tasting vanilla-y. Plus, while I'm sure it'll be a perfectly adequate ice cream topping or whatever else you use cool hwip for, Sandy's a genius and found a Weight Watchers dessert recipe that's simply cool hwip swirled around with a few dollops of your favorite peanut butter, separated into cupcake papers and frozen. My goodness. It helps I'm a peanut butter fiend, but man, those are awesome.  She made a dozen of them, and we were good and spread them out over a little more than a week, and just polished off the last of them tonight, and I want more already. Do it. Trust me. It's like rich peanut butter ice cream, except better, and in a few manageable, satisfying bites. You'll thank me.

You may also thank me after my suggestion for Trader Joe's Greek Style Yogurt. Sure, it's Greek yogurt, so use it as a sub for sour cream, or mix in some berries or honey or whatever. We've featured for many a taco night, or on top a baked potato, or a quick breakfast snag. That's not what I'm going for, even though I highly recommend it for all that. Did you know you can make pizza dough with just Greek yogurt and some self rising flour? I didn't. It's true. We've done it. Twice. It takes a little work and patience (because it looks NOTHING like pizza dough until all the sudden it does), but both times we've done it for homemade pizza, it's made an absolute killer crust. I like thick crust that's crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle. That's what this makes, plus it doesn't really taste like Greek yogurt at all. If you like thinner and all-the-way-through-crispier, I think you can just spread it a little thinner, and it'll work. We go back and forth between the regular and low-fat versions (depending on who's shopping/paying attention) and have been equally pleased with both.

Well, there you have it. There's not much else to be said about the House Whip or yogurt. Trying them together might be a little odd. The Greek yogurt is an absolute staple in our house, and the House Whip just might as we come up with some different dessert ideas using it as a base. There's no great way to really rate them, but here goes:

 Bottom lines: Trader Joe's House Whip: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons
Trader Joe's Greek-Style Yogurt: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


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