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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Trader Joe's Nantucket Style Cranberry Pie

Writing this in the wee morning hours of a near sleepless night on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday after the first Monday of a November that is (hopefully) nearing the culmination of yet another four year cycle that's been unlike any most of us have been around for, in a year like no other...there's a lot of different ways I could go with this next thought, but none of you are here for that. 

You're here for the pie! 

Specifically, Trader Joe's Nantucket Style Cranberry Pie.

Saying this while knocking on wood, no matter what lies ahead, Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. It's my favorite holiday of the year. It may look and feel different this year - Zoom calls and not card tables and folding chairs and all - but, no matter what, I'd like to focus on what I have to be thankful for. I urge you to do the same. Maybe give this a read if you need a nudge

Anyways, on to the Nantucket pie. Oh the limericks going thru my head right now. Is this a thing up there? Gonna have to check 'em out sometime. 

Do you like cranberries? If so you're gonna love this pie. that's the case with us. Tart, sweet, firm, a little smushy and jelled up - though there's a place in my heart for the stuff from a can, this is the real cranberry sauce kinda deal. Even better, there's a few walnuts sprinkled in. I emphasize a few. That's my only real complaint - a couple more crunchy walnuts would make this pie an absolute winner.

The crust almost makes up for it. Almost. It's not quite shortbready, but it's not plain ol' plain ol' either. I'm not sure what the proper classification is, except tasty. i can live with tasty. Can you? Good. 

It's $6.99 for the pie. Best deal in the world? Nah. but for something tasty and easy to put on the table, it's not awful at all either. Found in the freezer section, you can either thaw it at room temp for a couple hours - previous experience with this method suggests the longer the better - or you can stick in the oven, paper dish and all, for about 20 minutes then let cool to room temp. While not sure if a traditional way to enjoy or not, a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream doesn't seem completely out of line.

As an added bonus, my kids (who I am continually thankful for, despite my thinning hairline and wallet thanks to them) don't really like more dessert for me!

Give it a try. As with most anything else, I truly hope everyone gets their piece of the pie they want and deserve. We'll give this one a good score.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Nantucket Style Cranberry pie: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, November 2, 2020

Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower & Butternut Squash Risotto

Since Americans apparently like to "let their voices be heard" and stuff, I'm setting up a little referendum of my own. Voting is all the rage here in these United States as of late, so let's have a mock election for the president of the pantry...the culinary commander in chief...the premier of the palate. It's another Micropoll! Please vote down below.

Just assume that all variations of each answer are included under the broader category. For example, if you like "apple cider" or "apple cinnamon," you'd vote "apple." If you like "pumpkin pie" or "pumpkin spice," you'd simply vote "pumpkin." If your favorite fall flavor is something other than what I've included in this particular poll, then just leave a comment below.

In all honesty, I don't think butternut squash can keep up with those other choices, but hey, you never know. Likewise, Kanye West could be the next president of the United States. Wouldn't that be a trip? #BirthdayParty2020

In case that poll isn't displaying correctly on mobile, just click here to vote.

Fortunately, unlike American politics, we don't have to choose just one delicious flavor to consume all autumn long. We can indulge in all the many tasty treats fall has to offer. And I'm glad I got to try this unique "risotto" dish this year.

It's easy to prepare. Like most Trader Joe's products, the heating time went well over their estimation of 10 minutes in the pan. The frozen pellets of sauce had just barely melted at the 10 minute mark. I let it heat up a bit more and cooked off most of the liquid. The sauce eventually went from watery to creamy, if that makes sense. It was probably more like 15 minutes when all said and done, and it turned out pretty well. 

If anything, I think the riced cauliflower gets just a tad softer than the rice in regular risotto, but when consumed with the sauce and butternut squash, the consistency is very creamy and the overall effect is very pleasant, authentic, and similar to a traditional risotto dish. What can't they do with riced cauliflower?

The flavor here is subtle—it may be even verging on too subtle, as know, kinda bland. It's a creamed veggie essence with delicate notes of garlic and cheese. There's earthy, planty, nutty flavors, and the light sweetness of butternut squash. We just wish the flavors were all just a tad stronger and richer. It tastes vaguely fall-ish, but I'd be happy to consume it any other time of year. Trader Joe's Riced Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Risotto isn't really a stand alone entree in my opinion, but it makes a great side dish for your choice of protein. We served ours with salmon and it paired perfectly.

$3.69 for the 16oz bag. We'd consider buying it again. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues

My youngest offspring is currently obsessed with a show called The Bumble Nums. It's....well, I'll spare you all the details, but it's definitely geared for real little kids. The basic plot of each show centers around the three main characters getting "secret ingredients" for a dish they're gonna make. I suppose the point of it is to try and be cute while encouraging kids to try all sorts of food, but when the only word each character can say is a different intonation of the word "yum" and they things like snap peas somehow take on the characteristics and property of ninja stars, well, it gets old fast. 

Especially if watching the same episode over...and over...and over...just to keep quiet so school work and work work can get done around the house. Yeesh. 

Anyways, something like Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues could probably be on the show. I mean,us adults know they're sure to be tasty, but a little kid has no idea what a meringue is. heck, even I have only more than a little clue. They sound fun and tasty...yet seem mysteriously with their swirrls and curls. 

So, as the narrator might ask for these, "What's the secret ingredient?"

Can't be the egg whites or sugar. I mean, that's all what a meringues is to give it a form and shape. Like most meringues, these TJ's cocoa puffs are light, airy, a tad aridly chalky, with plenty of chomp to them. Each meringues is easily three or four bites, giving plenty of time to bite on through. Yet there's a softer, not quite melt-in-the-mouth quality that does tend to emerge, just as a good meringue should. 

Maybe it's the coca? Nah. That's not a knock, as it's certainly a delicious flavor. Think of a really good hot cocoa mix, and that's about what these taste like, in meringue form. Plenty of flavor. If you were to dunk some in some warm milk, I'm pretty sure it'd turn right to hot chocolate. No complaints at all, especially for the chocoholic portion of the family...which is basically all of us. 

So i guess it must be the chocolate chips? Excuse me, in the Bumble Nums spirit I need to call them something like Chompy Chocolate Chips and pretend they all have mouths that go CHOMP so you got to be careful when you catch them scurrying around...I digress. There's mini chocolate chips! Like, super mini, so much that I kinda passed over them at first. But every few bites there's a slightly extra cocoa-concentrated pocket with a bit more of a chew to them, and they they are. They work, and pretty seamlessly well, that do give the meringues a little extra kick.

Meringues aren't my personal favorite, but they'll do for a treat now and then. Wife and kids all gave them a hearty thumbs up, and I'll give them a pass for being a fairly decadent, comparatively low-cal almost-guilt-free treat. You'll get a box of about 20 of them for around $3.69 which seems a fair enough value. 3s from me, 4s from everyone else. And a chorus of "Yums!"

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Cocoa Meringues: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


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