Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Ginger People Ginger Chews

Price: $1.69
Features: "Sweet-hot soft ginger candy. Natural, stimulating, and delicious!"
Found in: Candy / Chocolate section

These ginger chews are great - so simple and so tasty - made with 8% fresh ginger. Eating a few can help soothe an upset stomach. I don't really have much else to say about these. If you like ginger, you'll love these. Pick some up!

Nutty Chocolate Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars

Price: $1.99 (6 bars)
Features: Partially organic, should be more thrilling
Found in: Granola Bars

Something about these bars is always a disappointment to me. Well, maybe not a full on disappointment, but I always expect better and then I am let down when I eat it. I guess that defines disappointment...whatever. Let's just say they could be so much better, but they aren't.

Let's see if I can quantify what I'm always looking for but never getting. The let down really starts with the chocolate. There's nothing quite like a generally "healthy" snack item that gets dipped in chocolate. Good times! Except this chocolate doesn't make the cut. It's kinda sweet, maybe a little waxy, not that chocolaty. So that brings me to the nutty part. Here again I encounter a very muted attempt at bringing in the full peanut ensemble. Sure, there are crunchy little bits of nuts, but they have more texture than taste. I want to taste peanuts, peanut butter, and chocolate. I get: Overly sweet and chewy with crunchy bits. Just not what I want out of them.

Funny, I keep buying these and I keep getting annoyed that they are not as good as they should be. I got this box because every other type of granola bar was out of stock, and I needed something to take to work. They do function as a snack to give you energy, but not the chocolate dipped "healthy" snack that tastes like a candy bar you think you are getting away with.

Teriyaki Natural Beef Jerky

Price: $4.99 (4 Oz)
Features: Best value for your jerky dollar, no crazy ingredients, tastes great on the trail
Found in: Generally hanging up in the snack / chip aisle

This jerky is highly addictive. So much so that you might now want to share it with any others in your hiking party. It is best to deny its existence and only sneak pieces when you are at the back of the pack. Not that I would ever go to such great lengths to hoard my jerky...just saying.

Anyway, this is a satisfying high-protein and light-weight snack. The jerky has a nice smokey flavor to it, and it isn't overly dry like the kind you find in the gas station. It also has just the right amount of teriyaki, not too sweet, but definitely adds a lot. I have tried the regular version of this snack, and I must recommend the teriyaki! I have not tried the peppered or turkey jerky from TJs yet.

One bag of jerky a friend got was basically one giant and excessively thick slice. I like that this jerky has more heft to it than other types, but one giant hunk for your $5.00 isn't so hot. Just check out the contents of the package before buying!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Organic Midnight Moo


Price: $2.49
Features: Way better than Hershey's
Found in: On a ledge above the ice cream

Trader Joe's Organic Midnight Moo Chocolate Flavored Syrup not only has a long name, it's good too! This stuff has a much more natural and intense (darker?) chocolate flavor to it than the dreaded Hershey's. Not sickeningly sweet either.

It like to use it on ice cream (pictured here over TJ's Soy Creamy), to make chocolate milk (though I usually just buy TJ's chocolate soy milk which I will review soon) and I imagine it would make a mean mocha...but I don't have an espresso machine to assist me in testing that theory. Bonus: It's organic so it can't have anything too weird in it, right?

Now playing: moving units - the kids from orange county
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

Price: $3.69 (4-pack)
Features: Premium ice cream sandwiched between two soft chocolate chip cookies, then rolled in crunchy mini-chocolate chips, wow!
Found in: Freezer section, with other desserts and ice cream

Oh man these are amazing, so irresistible! As if an ice cream sandwich dipped in mini chocolate chips wasn't tantalizing enough, they replaced the standard weird chocolate wafer outside (that always sticks to your fingers) with real soft chocolate chip cookies!

You can imagine that all this sublimity comes with a (nutritional) price, and you would be right. But, who cares!? These are definitely a sometimes food, but when it is that time, go right ahead and enjoy every last cookie-wrapped ice cream dipped in chocolate chips bite!

Needless to say, this box was destroyed in about 5 minutes once people discovered I had them. You may need to develop a secret stash in the back of the freezer behind a loaf of bread that has turned into an ice block if you want them to be around just for you to enjoy later.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lavender & Chamomile Hand Soap

Price: $2.99
Features: All natural, lots of soap for a low price
Found in: Cleaning / personal care products

This liquid hand soap gets the job done for me. I like the large bottle so I don't have to worry about replacing / refilling it often. One of the 'mates has already expressed a negative opinion of this product. Maybe it's just a personal preference thing? It does have a powerful scent, but I don't find it unpleasant. Worth a try for $2.99. If you hate it you can always go play hand soap fairy in your favorite understocked coffee shop bathroom!

Mushroom Turnovers

Price: $2.99
Features: "Sauteed mushrooms & onions in a cream cheese pastry."
Found in: Frozen appetizers

I got talked into buying these by the guy running the sample stand. They seemed ok, not a bad deal for $2.99 per box. I felt like they needed some dipping sauce to go with them though. So, when I ended up making them for "dinner" at home I used the only thing I could find for dipping: Trader Ming's Gyoza Dipping Sauce.

Upon opening the package I realized there wasn't much in there, and I felt silly heating up the oven to make only six tiny turnovers, so I just made the whole box (12, still not a lot of food). They cooked up from frozen in about 10 minutes. I think the best use for these would be to serve them as an appetizer during a cocktail party (better get 2 boxes to fill up a plate). They don't really go with anything as a side dish, and they are not substantial enough to fill you up as a quick meal.

The Gyoza dipping sauce is good, but not the best with mushroom turnovers. I bet it is really good on...hmm...pot stickers! Only problem is that the sauce has a huge amount of sodium. Almost 60% of your RDV in 2 Tbsp! Maybe the turnovers would be better accompanied by BBQ sauce, or a sour cream type dip?

The cream cheese pastry was an interesting touch. Lighter than regular pastry, but not as airy as puff pastry. Works well with the mushroom and onion filling.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fire Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Price: $3.29
Features: Frozen blobs of sauce instead of a separate sauce packet.
Found in: Frozen vegetables

I sampled these fire roasted vegetables in the store a few weeks ago. At the time I remember thinking the balsamic butter sauce was pretty potent stuff. So the next week, when I was wondering around the Capitol Hill Trader Joe's aimlessly searching for something to make for dinner. I couldn't settle on anything, so I ended up throwing a bunch of prepared side dishes in my cart and cooking them up quickly at home.

I opened the bag and dumped everything into the frying pan expecting to find some packet of sauce to add after cooking. None to be found. But the Hershey's Kiss-like blobs I had incorrectly identified as mushrooms soon began to melt and from the sauce. Ok I thought, maybe that is why it is so concentrated?

When these finished cooking up we all tried them, but I didn't find them as flavorful as they had been in the store. I think the pan they were using in the store to make samples really concentrated the sauce blobs from several bags down and made it extra strong. So I was less impressed with these than expected. Vegetables are good for you...butter sauce not so much. I feel like there should have been more veggies in the package for $3.29!

Honey Roasted Peanuts

Price: $2.59
Features: Sweet, salty, crunchy, honey roasted deliciousness!
Found in: Nuts, trail mix, dried fruits etc.

I believe this is the first Trader Joe's product I knowingly consumed. What a great way to start! Needless to say, I was very curious to check out the local TJ's since honey roasted peanuts are one of my favorite snacks.

Ahh, remember back in the good old days when you could get as many packets of honey roasted peanuts on the plane as you wanted for free? Then they all switched to pretzels, and you got one bag only. I figured that was because of concerns for people with peanut allergies, but that doesn't make sense since the next trend in airline snacks was crappy spicy or tropical party mix full of nuts. These days you might get a stale package of Wheat Thin's Toasted Chips if you grovel at the flight attendant's feet in the aisle and slip her a Benjamin.

So, I've gotta get my honey roasted fix somewhere else (growing up with them on flights must have gotten my hooked). Enter Trader Joe's with their 1 pound bag for only $2.59. Oh yes, bask in the glory! So much satisfaction for so little. Plus, these are some of the best honey roasted peanuts around - perfect balance of sweet, salty, and crunchy. Excellent for hikes or an anytime snack.

You'll notice that I took a picture of a nearly empty bag. I was planning to shoot it when it was unopened, but the 'mates and I got hungry one night...and the rest is history. Quite literally - as I write this post the last ones mysteriously disappeared. ;-)

Now playing: Dr. Dre - Deez Nuuuts
via FoxyTunes