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."

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt

As a lover of all things pumpkin, I was thrilled to see pumpkin yogurt at Trader Joe's. I can't say I've ever even seen pumpkin yogurt before, but it seemed like such an obvious flavor choice for a seasonal yogurt. And I have been known to add pumpkin butter to my yogurt, so it seemed like it would be such a simple flavor to create.

Before I even saw it at the store, I had heard rumors of a seasonal pumpkin yogurt, and I had heard that it was supposed to be quite good. Perhaps my expectations were too high because of these rumors, because I was beyond disappointed when I got around to trying the yogurt. In fact, I felt rather annoyed by the fact that I had clearly been lied to.

At first bite, I thought perhaps the yogurt had gone bad, or was simply too close to the expiration date. But this was not at all the case. The yogurt had a very thin consistency for Greek yogurt, which I assume to be due to the fact that it is nonfat (rather than low fat, like most Greek yogurts). It also had a very unpleasant sour taste, which was just worsened by the fact that there was a noticeable lack of pumpkin flavor. The only noticeable flavor (other than sour) seemed to be a pumpkin spice flavor (or at least the clove and nutmeg).

I will definitely not be buying this again, and I would suggest that everyone else avoids this product. Trader Joe's really needs to rethink their source for this item. Surely there are some good pumpkin yogurts out there just waiting to be discovered.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Battered Fish Nuggets

I love fish and chips, but I rarely ever find frozen fish products that I consider to even be edible. I may have enjoyed frozen fish sticks when I was 3, but I quickly outgrew that phase, and there's at most 3 frozen fish products I am willing to eat if they are presented to me. Other than that, I tend to only really enjoy similar fish products at restaurants or freshly made at home.

At a recent trip to Trader Joe's, I bought a few of their frozen fish products to try. One of the these was the Trader Joe's Battered Fish Nuggets. In all honesty, I didn't have much faith that I would like these, and cringed a bit at the thought of fish "nuggets." They were priced at $3.99, and offered four servings (with four nuggets for each serving), so I figured they were at least worth giving a try.

After baking these nuggets in the oven, the first thing I noticed was how much grease seemed to have leaked from them during the cooking process. After taking the first bite, the grease was a bit too much for me. However, I did notice that they crisped a bit more after being allowed to cool for a few minutes. As for the oil, I did use a paper towel (but for those that don't mind the excess oil/grease, this surely won't be a concern).

The fish was surprisingly flaky, and did taste like higher quality than one would expect from fish nuggets. Considering the price, I do think these are a great option for a battered frozen fish product. I did enjoy them, but would most likely not buy them again. At least, not for myself, the rest of the family loved them, and I think these would be a really great replacement for fish sticks for children.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Teriyaki Turkey Jerky

Ever since I was a child, I have had a particular weakness for jerky of (almost) any kind. I can enjoy anything from tofu jerky to squid jerky, but I now frequently find myself annoyed by the consistency of many jerkies.

Perhaps as I've gotten older my tastes have changed, but I no longer care for a gritty jerky texture, and often regret eating jerky after my (admittedly sensitive) gums seem to become raw by the irritation of tiny jerky splinters burrowing between my teeth and the incessant flossing action that follows.

In recent years, I've found myself trying to expand even further, in hopes of finding more jerkies that with offer a more pleasant texture. But truth be told, I'll still buy any jerky I see that I can't recall trying. And this is exactly what happened when I stumbled along Trader Joe's modest jerky selection during a recent shopping trip.

I quickly grabbed one of each variety, which consisted of Teriyaki Turkey Jerky and Buffalo Jerky (which I have not yet tried). I recently broke open the Turkey Jerky, and was immediately pleased when I noticed the  smooth and soft texture of the jerky piece I was gripping. The texture was extremely chewy, but had a lovely softness to it, with no hard splinter pieces. This continued through the rest of the bag, and even those small pieces that broke off had a pleasant texture.

As for the taste, I wouldn't exactly call it teriyaki. I only really tasted the soy sauce, and a strong sweetness, which is not like the more mild sweetness I usually encounter with teriyaki sauces and flavorings. Although it's not a classic teriyaki, I did enjoy the flavor and found the sweetness to be complementary to the soy sauce and natural turkey flavor.

As for the price, it was $4.99 for a 4 ounce bag. This is slightly less than the standard brands I see at the grocery store, and about the same as the budget friendly store brands. However, the quality was far superior in my opinion, so I was quite pleased with the cost per ounce. I will definitely be buying this jerky again, and will most likely add it to my regularly Trader Joe's shopping list.