Google Tag

Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Chili Chicken

It's an all-time classic and perennial top-seller, and perhaps most impressively, the inaugural member of our blog's Hall of Fame AKA "The Pantheon." Naturally, we're talking about TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken. It's a pretty consistent winner in our book, and though occasionally imitated, it's never quite duplicated.

Naturally, with this being THE  Summer of Mango, here comes the newest variant: Trader Joe's Mango Chili Chicken. You can't tell me that doesn't sound gooo-ooooo-ooood. Some fruity sweet sauce glazed over some tempura-battered chicken, with a little kick of heat, with some chunks of mango tossed in for good measure, for just $4.99 - oh yeah, that's an easy sell.

I guess that's why, although solid, this chicken is still kinda disappointing.

Sans mango chunks, if side by side, I'm not 100% I would be able to tell the mandarin orange and mango chicken apart. They're just too similar.Yeah, there is the different flavor inflection from the mango as opposed to an orange...but it's not as divergent as it should be. And there's no discernible spice at all - if there were, my almost four year old wouldn't to'uch it, and she happily gobbled it down. And the mango chunks, well...after being frozen and reheated again, they seemed more reminiscent of canned pears than the tasty goodness I know a mango can be.

So yeah, kinda a bummer after our initial excitement. The dish just seems like it ought to be a more distinctive, different dinner than it actually is. Great idea, lazy execution...but we'll probably buy it again for another easy dinner night that everyone in the family reasonably enjoyed enough. Double threes.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mango Chili Chicken: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Trader Joe's Shooting Stars

Let's take a little break from all that mango madness, shall we? It's a long summer, that's plenty of time to get to all that, right? That's what summer is about - a little break from everything, and pacing yourself a bit...and technically it's still late spring, after all.

All that didn't keep me from taking a little personal break myself last week to enjoy the canyons and mountains in and around Zion National Park. If you're ever out that way on vacation, be sure to look up these guys, they'll be sure to show you a good long as your idea of a good time includes intentionally dangling off a cliff. Much thanks to the Rodgers for holding down the fort all week, and Nathan and Sonia, enjoy your week doing whatever the heck it is you're doing this week.

Anyways, back to the matter at hand: Trader Joe's Shooting Stars. Yeah, from the packaging and whatnot, they almost look like a TJ's take on those cheapie gas station pyrotechnics. The real truth is a little less exciting than that - chocolate coated shortbread cookies (ho-hum)...but wait? What's this? "Covered in popping candy"!?!?! Now, that sounds like fun!!! Let's do this!

Yes, we've seen this gimmick before with don't-call-them-Pop-Rocks candy, or as the package calls them, "meteorites." Oooh, even more fun! But man...these are on steroids or something. From the moment the package is cracked open, an audible chorus of crackling starts and just won't let up. You get anywhere close to the cookies, you will get popped on - they spark up and explode on the whim of whatever chemistry makes this possible. At one point I was a good two feet away from the nearest cookie and still got nailed on my elbow. Doesn't hurt, of course, but it's as if the cookies have an invisible force field that it dares you to chomp through, like it's not going to go down without a fight.

The popping sensation carries through with each bite too. Crackle crackle crackle, chomp chomp chomp. There is a slight added sugary crunch as a result of the crystals, but not enough to greatly affect the flavor. The star cookies themselves are fairly basic, straightforward chocolate/sugar confections pretty close to the standard "from tree elf to store shelf" variety - of perhaps slightly better quality, perhaps, particularly with the chocolate (as is TJ's tradition).

It's really the popping candy that makes these cookies worth note - heck, without them, Sandy and I would probably pass right on by and not even notice. As a nice little bonus, our kiddos seem a little wary of being sparked by their dessert, so we just might have this whole box to ourselves. We don't recall the exact price, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 - if you know, drop us that knowledge. It's a fun, silly, gimmicky purchase that we probably won't make often, but will enjoy while we can.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Shooting Stars: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, June 10, 2016

Podcast Episode 25: $5 Mini Shopping Spree

We gave ourselves a $5 budget this time and tried to find three or four inexpensive yet interesting products that we wouldn't normally buy, then we share our thoughts about them in this episode.

Thanks for listening.

Check out the show notes.

Visit us on Google Play.

Stop by our Stitcher page.

Music by Bensound.

You Might Like: