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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Because I'm quite certain there's no pumpkin in coconut cashews, and also because I'm pretty sure pumpkin seeds do not constitute a pumpkin product, and also because my last 2 posts have been relatively pumpkin-free, and because my wife and I have suffered from severe pumpkin-withdrawal over the last 2 weeks, and finally, because it's Halloween, I have decided that it's high time to take a look at something pumpkintacular once again.

It's pumpkin-flavored bread pudding. I remember the first time I heard of bread pudding. I was like, " mean it's bread and it's pudding?" I was overjoyed. "What's next?" I thought. "Ice cream and cake? Cookie butter and cocoa spread?" It's kinda like that Ford Fusion commercial where they say "I like 'and' better," which is quite obviously a rip-off of the Old Country Buffet commercial where the people visit "The Land of &."

Well, I just visited the Land of Bread and Pudding and Pumpkin, and I'm thinking about transferring my citizenship there. It's pretty awesome. And to add to all of the awesomeness, I must mention that I didn't even turn on the oven to prep this product. I got lazy and used the microwave, even though I've sworn off such barbaric practices in previous posts, even if the instructions list it as a viable heating option. But in this case, it worked pretty well. Our microwave is cheap and old, so it didn't heat completely evenly, but I often wonder if heating the bread pudding in the oven might have dried it out a bit.

Ours was crazy moist, like bread pudding's supposed to be. Both Sonia and I agree that it's actually a bit better served at room temperature rather than warm, despite the instructions contradicting us. Because remember, the WG@TJ's crew is always right. The product tastes bready and custardy, and the whole thing has an air of pumpkin pie. It's just solid enough that you can eat it with your hands or out of a napkin, but it's also melt-in-your-mouth soft, and you could theoretically eat it with a spoon.

This stuff goes great with coffee, it tastes a good bit like pumpkin, and at least in our case, it stayed moist for the whole 12 hours it lasted on the counter under some saran wrap. Sonia gives it 4.5 stars. I give it 4.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trader Joe's Coconut Cashews

I've admitted before that sometimes I don't look too closely at a product or label before deciding to buy it. It usually happens when I get sent all by myself by the spousal powers-that- be to go find a "good, easy dinner" or a "yummy looking snack" with few, if any, other qualifications. With such an open-ended directive that can be easily interpreted a myriad of different ways, you think it'd be hard to mess up. Nuh uh. Not me. That's how we ended up being forced to consume such sorry excuses for food like those nasty vegetable rolls linked to above, or the ginger napalm shards, or other similar disappointments. It's like when given the most freedom to get something right, I am most likely to swing and miss. Fortunately, the only realm of life this is particularly true in is grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, so I'll consider myself one lucky hombre.

This somehow leads to Trader Joe's Coconut Cashews. Now, I understood that these were cashews with a coconut twist, so I'm not quite that dumb to think that maybe I bought some meat macadamias or pizza peanuts or alcoholly almonds or some other alliterative nut product. The name kinda speaks for itself.

But, I didn't really look at the nuts themselves, or the ingredient list, to see how the cashews arrived at their coconutty incarnations. Perhaps it was the spirits of the season, but I was imagining cashews wrapped up mummy-style in shredded coconut, or perhaps put more appetizingly, shredded coconut all piled up pinata-style, with the reward for busting through that layer being crunchy, tasty cashew goodness. Not the case. These guys are just cashews with coconut powder, coconut milk, and sugar kinda spooged on them with some coconut oil to boot. I have nothing particularly against any of those ingredients, but man, given the option, I'd take shredded coconut ten times before I'd settle for one of those. There's a certain crunch to toasted coconut which could've been pretty interesting with roasted cashews, in my opinion, that I was hoping to try out but wasn't able to.

That's my biggest beef, but it's not my only. I'd like them a little more for straight snacking if they had just a hint of salt on them, just to play up the salty/sweet angle a little bit. No dice. And while my better half has suggested they may be good for making some curry or fried rice, I'm not terribly convinced they'd be any better than regular plain ol' cashews and adding your own coconut milk. Maybe I'm just a little grouchy that I paid $6.99 for the not-quite-a-pound sack and I'm not that particularly wowed about them. If I'm paying that much for something, I'd like to be impressed.

All that being said, I'll snack on them a little here and there, but I'm not foreseeing these nuts as a repeat purchase. They're not nasty nuts by any stretch, but they're underwhleming at best, to the point I'd say I'd rather have plain. Sandy's a bit more enthused about them than I am, as she's been adding them to her morning oatmeal and smushed some up for some baked apple/oatmeal dessert she made tonight, so I was a little surprised when she said she'd give them just a three. "They're crunchy and sweet and....well, not much else," she said. Since I'd say she's about twice as happy with them as I am, I shall have my score reflect that. It's probably lower than what they actually deserve, but well, as the saying goes, our scores can range from soup to, well, nuts.   

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Coconut Cashews: 4.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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