Wednesday, January 2, 2013

(Frozen) Lasagna Bolognese

I've had a few different types of lasagna at Trader Joe's, and overall my experiences were good (some were even excellent). I've had the refrigerated Lasagna Bolognese from Trader Joe's before, so I decided recently it would only make sense to give the frozen version a try.

I'm a fan of the refrigerated version, even though it's admittedly nowhere near as good as a homemade lasagna. As far as grocery store lasagna though, it's probably my favorite.

However, whatever works so well in the refrigerated version, seems to be lacking in the frozen version. The consistency of the egg noodles seemed a bit off, the sauce had an unpleasant aftertaste to me, and there was something peculiar about the meat in the sauce (but I can't quite put my finger on it). Not only was I not fond of the flavor itself, it seemed a bit overpriced at $3.49 for a one serving frozen lasagna. And by expensive, I mean by Trader Joe's standards.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trader Joe's 100% Grapefruit Juice

I love grapefruits, but grapefruit juice is my personal preference. It's difficult to find quality grapefruit juice in my area, and I tend to always be disappointed when trying anything that isn't stored in the refrigerated section. I don't know what it is exactly, but the standard shelf stable grapefruit juices never really seem to satisfy my cravings for grapefruit juice.

So when I recently noticed the 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice at Trader Joe's, I decided it was time to give it a try. I tend to avoid fresh fruit at Trader Joe's (as do most people I know that shop their regularly), but I figured that this rule didn't need to apply to refrigerated juice.

The juice was fairly (if not generously, for my area) priced at $3.29 for a bottle that contains 4 (8 oz) servings. The brand I normally buy is more like $5.99 for the same size (which is admittedly, drastically overpriced).

The juice was delicious. The quality and freshness were better than expected, although I would say I like my usual brand a tiny bit more. However, the difference is truly so tiny, that the price difference would heavily sway me towards the Trader Joe's juice. It was as bitter and tart as I like my real grapefruit juice to taste, so it's definitely not a drink for those that like their juice sweet.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Turkey Gobbler Wrap

I first noticed the Turkey Gobbler Wrap at Trader Joe's around Thanksgiving, while picking up some last minute items for the holidays. I almost bought one to have for lunch, but decided to opt for another wrap instead. I love wraps, but turkey wraps (in my experience) tend to be overtly dry. And the stuffing either seems to be dry, or soggy and past its prime.

When I noticed the wrap again during a recent trip to Trader Joe's, I figured why not give it a try? Besides, my mother was with me, and she'll eat just about anything, so it wouldn't go to waste if I didn't want it.

After checking out and getting into the car, I finally looked at the ingredients. The Turkey Gobbler has turkey, stuffing, cranberries and cream cheese. ...Wait, what? This is definitely not the standard "Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Jelly" wrap that seems to be just about everywhere around here. And cream cheese, not mayo? I was intrigued. I then realized there was a little container of gravy like substance tucked into one opening of the wrap (which you can't see very well from the outside of the packaging).

I've never been a fan of gravy, so that's most likely one of the reasons I tend to hate thanksgiving style wraps. Let's face it, the gravy is probably the saving grace for many people that would otherwise hate how dry those wraps truly are. So I was quite surprised to take my first bite and find the perfect blend of creaminess, moist turkey, cranberry tartness and strangely fresh tasting stuffing. Nothing at all was dry, and the flavor combination was heavenly. It's now my favorite wrap from Trader Joe's, and quite possibly my favorite wrap ever (which is saying a lot, trust me!) As for the gravy, as a gravy hater, I was pleasantly surprised when I nervously dipped a corner of the wrap into the sauce. The gravy was very milky, and offered a nice richness to the wrap. As for my mother, a gravy lover (borderline obsessed, really), she loved the wrap with the gravy, but still thought it was fantastic without it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potato fries (who doesn't?), even though I've never been much a fan of regular fries. I tend to only really enjoy them at restaurants, and homemade and frozen versions rarely seem to work out so well. After having luck with the Alexia Brand Sweet Potato Fries (LOVE their waffle version!), I decided it was time to try the Trader Joe's version.

The large 15 ounce bag (about 5 servings...And when they say 5 servings, they seem to be right on with this, only cost $2.29! About one third the cost of similar products found at the grocery store. And less than half what I pay for the Alexia brand (which I would consider to be equal quality.)

After coming home and realizing the price, I had convinced myself there was no hope for these sweet potato fries. So when I finally got around to cooking them, I was baffled to find that they were not just good, but are now my favorite frozen sweet potato fry. They had slightly crispy exteriors, with soft interiors, just the way I like them. And considering the price, these are definitely an ABSOLUTE must buy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wild Pacific Salmon Wrap

I happened to be in the area of Trader Joe's around lunchtime, so I decided to grab something to eat. While browsing the sandwiches and wraps, I noticed something I hadn't seen there before. A Wild Pacific Salmon Wrap, that comes with Tzatziki Sauce, Lettuce and Diced Tomato. I love salmon, but I never liked any variety that comes from a can. But, the other sandwiches and wraps I normally get were already wiped out for the lunch rush, so I figured I would give it a shot.

I LOVE Tzatziki sauce, but I was worried about the quality that I would be getting. I was very pleased to find the sauce to be of good quality, with a surprisingly fresh taste. The taste was a bit strong, but it actually complemented the salmon perfectly. So much so, that it didn't even really have that "canned" taste I despise so much.

The only thing I did not like, was the fact that the Tzatziki sauce had formed a thick layer on the side of the wrap (which gave it a thick cheese spread like consistency). I think this is due to a combination of two minor issues. The sauce being too thick, and the wrap being stored at a temperature that's too cold, so I would suggest warming it slightly in the microwave before eating, or leaving it at room temperature for a bit. Other than that, I was very pleased with the quality and taste, and for $3.99 it's definitely worth buying. Even if it were priced at $6.99, I would happily buy it as a regular lunch.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Buffalo Jerky

I recently tried Trader Joe's Sweet & Spicy Buffalo Jerky, which I purchased a few weeks ago for $5.49 (which for four ounces I think is a complete bargain). I was pleased to see buffalo jerky being offered for two reasons: I love the taste of buffalo, and buffalo is much healthier than beef. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that this jerky had less than half as much sodium as standard jerky products.

The jerky had the perfect texture. It was not at all gristly, but it was still sliced thin and had a very authentic jerky texture. The taste was also pleasantly surprisingly. Sweet & Spicy jerky often seems to only offer one of those two flavor experiences. Although this jerky wasn't very spicy (though I do have high tolerance for spice), I thought the seasoning was the perfectly complement to the sweet flavoring the jerky offered. I can honestly say this is one of the 5 best jerky products I have ever tastes (and I have had hundreds), and this will definitely be a regular purchase from this point forward.

Frozen Turkey Burgers

Just like everyone else, I enjoy a good burger every now and then. But truth be told, I've never been a big fan of premade patties, especially those of the frozen variety. However, there is no denying that having some frozen burger patties on hand is quite convenient at times.

Since I am a fan of turkey burgers, I figured I would buy a package of the Frozen Turkey Burgers from Trader Joe's. After all, four large patties for $2.99, surely makes it worth the risk. Besides, Trader Joe's does have a good track record (for the most part).

Eventually, I found myself too lazy to make a proper dinner, and since the family dog was also pestering us for a good treat, I decided it was time to cook up the turkey burgers. The burgers did cook well, and there was no unpleasant smell that lingered in the kitchen (which does seem to be the case for many frozen burgers, and frozen meat products in general).

As for the taste, the turkey was good quality , but something about the flavor bothered me. I expect a plain turkey burger to taste that way....Plain, and ready to be altered to my liking. But the burgers had a rather strange seasoning, which I can only describe as being eerily akin to that of a turkey breakfast sausage. Surely this wouldn't be an issue for those that enjoy turkey breakfast sausage, but personally I didn't care for it. I doubt I'd buy these again for myself, but the dog did enjoy his. And my mother liked hers, although she did say it tasted like "breakfast meat."