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Friday, March 30, 2018

Trader Joe's Cream Cheese Brioche Pastries

"Mornings are made for coffee and contemplation."

You can't argue with that, and you don't mess around with Jim.

Wise words, though. I love the mornings where Sandy and I have a chance to share a cup of coffee together before embarking on the crushing madness of the day. Keeps us centered as a couple, I think. It's good stuff.

And sometimes you need a good bite to go along with it. For $2.99, why not try Trader Joe's Cream Cheese Brioche Pastries for an at-home treat?

These breakfasty buns have easy written all over them. As the box states, they're prebaked but come frozen, so there's two prep options. First is to bake on low heat in the oven until warm (but not toasty!), the second is to let sit at room temp for a spell to warm up.

Since there's two pastries....we tried both ways!

There was a demonstrable better quality to the oven prep method. The box states 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, but I pulled them out a little earlier. Perfect. The outside bread shell got just the right amount of toasty and gave way to a warm, softly sweet and doughy inside. Almost total carby comfort, topped off with a rich sweet cream cheese custard type deal on top. Think of the normal cheese danish type filling, and that's pretty close...and there's a lot of it, too. Yum.

If going for defrost at room temp, maybe give it a little longer than the box calls for. We started consuming at about the instructed 45 to 60 minutes, and while everything still tasted about the same, there was a still a cool clamminess to most of the bun. That definitely had a damper on the overall appeal.

Regardless, these make a nice breakfast treat. My only real complaint is that they're a bit big. I mean, instead of two mega-buns, four smaller ones might have done the trick better, especially with the serving size being half a big bready brioche. Other than that, worth a shot for sure, and better than Eggos for breakfast.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cream Cheese Brioche Pastries: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Trader Joe's Falafel Mix

It's been seven freaking years since our review of Trader Joe's Heat & Eat Falafel. Seven years. Goodness.

I'll spare you the spiel about how and when I discovered falafel since I covered that in the previous review. Suffice it to say that I like it, and both Sonia and I thoroughly enjoyed Trader Joe's frozen falafel offering. So how does this mix n' fix variety square up? Read on.

Shelf-stable and affordable at just $2.99 for the whole package, this mix can mix it up with the best of them in my humble opinion. The spice level was just about right, and at least when fried, the texture isn't quite perfect, but close enough to justify featuring this product as the centerpiece of a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean meal, as well as repeat purchases in the near future.

Check out the pic of the mix just by itself (left).

 When something looks this much like sawdust, my expectations automatically go down. Not necessarily because it will, in fact, taste like sawdust, but because my overactive, neurotic brain will insist that it is sawdust. Fortunately, the next step—the "just add water" step (right)—looks slightly less like sawdust and more like a gritty, hummussy paste, and the final step after frying looks shockingly like normal falafel.

I feel like the product is just a little more inclined to fall apart while being eaten than other types of falafel, but if it's being served in a pita, that's really not an issue. We had it with pita bread, this excellent Trader Joe's brand tzatziki sauce, and some hummus. It's satisfying and filling, and it's got a nice nutty flavor. Of course, when fried, the extra olive oil helps out with the taste.
We did try making a batch in the oven, too. It's nothing to complain about, and it's a little less calorific that way, although you do have to coat them with oil before baking them. I'm sure they pick up significantly more oil when fried. Frying them also improves the structural integrity of the product somewhat. From the oven, it's just a tad too dry for my taste.

Both preparation methods involved a one hour period for the mixture to set. Sonia thinks the frying would have been a lot simpler with a deep fat fryer, while she simply made them in the skillet.

Sonia insists these turned out better than the aforementioned heat and eat style falafel. I think I liked the heat and eat ones just a mite bit more than these, but we both agree that this product is a better value overall, making three large batches of about nine falafel balls each. The box claims there are nine servings of three balls each. Our serving sizes tended to be larger than just three falafel balls—we ate four or five in a single sitting, but there are easily, at minimum, four to six meals-worth of falafel in the package, even for larger appetites.

Five stars from Sonia. Four stars from me.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

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