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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Cranberry Apple Sausage

It's know that what means! Crunchy leaves falling. A cool chill in the air. The end of political attack ads for a couple weeks. And of's almost turkey time!

There's a billboard around town here' in the 'burgh for the local gas station promoting the Pilgrim - a roast turkey sub piled high with cranberries, gravy and trimmings on a "stuffing bread." That sounds as awesome as it sounds gutbursting. There's all sorts of other turkey wraps and sandwiches around, including TJ's somewhat disappointing one from last year.

But a totally tubular Thanksgiving turkey treat, and not in the '80s' sense? For me, unheard of...until now, Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Cranberry Apple Sausage.

Turkey as an alternate meat can either work pretty well or not so great when trying to emulate other protein products. See: turkey bacon. Pork sausage is usually pretty greasy, so a drier, leaner meat like turkey has to be done well to make an acceptable swap-out in my eyes.

Well, Trader Joe's tried. They really, really tried. But as an old wise little short green man once told me, "Do or do not. There is no try." So, TJ's did not. There's just enough not flavor or execution here. First, they're pretty dry. And then, the turkey itself is fairly bland. "Well, that's why they'd add some cranberry and apple, that oughtta fix that," you're now thinking to yourself. You'd be right doesn't. In one of Sandy's sausages there was a deep, large well of red that I presume was the cranberry. That's the only discernible cranberry any of us had in the whole package of five we cooked up. There were little chunks of what I presume were apple (kinda gray/tan/light colored) but they didn't add much of anything one way or the other. In the end, they just kinda lacked.

To be fair, I suppose if one were to purchase and prepare these not with the though of festive fall flavors but instead a reasonably healthy sausage option, these links wouldn't seem nearly as disappointing. That's a more than valid thought. Sodium's kinda high, but uncured, low fat, heck, not even preservatives - they're practically paleo which works for me.

Sandy made a face when I mentioned I'd be reviewing these. "Ugh, if we never got those again, that'd be more than okay with me - I just didn't really like them," she said. She seemed to verbally waiver between around a two, so that's what we're going with for her, which sounds just 'bout right to me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Uncured Turkey Cranberry Apple Sausage: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons    

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trader Joe's Cheese Blintzes

Apparently blintzes are Eastern European in origin and were brought to the states by Jewish immigrants from that region. And they're apparently traditionally consumed on big holidays like Hanukkah. And at the risk of sounding like another very articulate Pennsylvanian, I'll refrain from using the word "apparently" for the rest of this post.

I'm actually like 1/16th Jewish through my father's mother's branch of the family, by way of Germany. And Hanukkah starts in just over a month. So they may not have the seasonal appeal of pumpkin or pecan, but I just want you all to know that it's not entirely inappropriate for me to review these tasty wrapped pastry pancakes now, particularly for those of you who want to try some foreign-inspired cuisine this holiday season.

The blintzes, or "blini," are wrapped in a crepe-like shell that fries up nicely in a pan with oil or butter. I found myself heating them for a few extra minutes than what the instructions indicated, but maybe I wasn't using enough heat. As I've mentioned before, I'm not particularly skilled in the kitchen. But at any rate, they turned out to be pretty scrumptious. I just waited until the middle was soft and the outside medium-brown and then took them out of the skillet.

The filling is something like a sweetened cottage cheese, although much more tasty than that probably sounds. It was like the illegitimate lovechild of cottage cheese and cream cheese, with a little sugar all up in the mix. Although these little guys are rolled up like some funky foreign hot pockets, the overall effect is like a dessert crepe. I haven't tried it yet, but I bet these would be killer with some homemade fresh fruit jam or pie filling on top.

Sonia's down with these kosher blini, despite a slight aversion to the texture of the cottage cheesiness. She gives them three and a half stars. I'll raise her half a star. Four from me. Can't stop the blintz.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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