Random Reviews

I forgot that I had made General Tso’s Chicken from America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers cookbook while coming out of my non-cooking slump.  It was ok, but absolutely nothing that I would make again.  Maybe the problem was that I used Simply fruit jam instead of the sugar filled one?  I am not sure, but I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on something that I definitely wasn’t going to eat more than a couple tablespoons.  It also wasn’t clear if the chicken in the recipe was weighed before or after it was cleaned.  I think I weighed it before, but I still thought 1.5 pounds = 4 servings was a large amount per serving.  Since I wasn’t actually tracking my food then, I have no idea how many servings I had, so I just stuck to 4.  The only part of the recipe that I was ok with eating again was the chicken pieces themselves.  They were coated in corn flakes and baked.  I agree with the post I linked to above, I definitely needed smaller crushing of the cereal.  I did have an issue with how sweet the coating was.  I couldn’t really eat them without some kind of sauce to dip in.  I also think I baked them too long.  They were a little dry – again, needing the sauce of some sort to eat with.  Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t gross enough not t eat (I had them for breakfast just this morning:) ), but I think they can be tweaked.

 

I bought some Frozen Indian meals from Trader Joe’s: Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala (My fav at restaurants).  I should have known better since the opinion I went with was of a former co-worker.  This is the same woman that said how horrible the eatery in the office building was, but ate there regularly because she “didn’t have time to go anywhere else”.  REALLY?  We were within a 2 minute drive of a mall with an expansive food court.  Don’t tell me that you can’t go anywhere else.  It takes 15-20 minutes just to get the crappy food and it is in the building!!

 

Needless to say, the meals sucked.  Not flavorful enough, not enough salt in the sauces.  Rice was dry after reheating.  The actual reheating times – especially on the Butter Chicken – was ridiculous.  4 minute on defrost and 5 on regular.  WHAT??  The Chicken Tikka Masala had some unappetizing bits that I still don’t know what they were, but they were attached to the chicken, so maybe some gross fat?  The amount of chicken in both was laughable.  Maybe 5 pieces in each?  I had gotten some Garlic Naan to go along with it.  I absolutely love Naan.  This was only edible when it was heated in the microwave – ok, I can deal with that.  The worst?  It had absolutely no garlic taste that I could discern.  Even when it was heated, it wasn’t that good.  Just tasted like raw flour.  I will definitely not be buying any more Indian type stuff from TJ’s in the near future.

One group of things that I did buy turned out to be almost perfect.  I was really jonesing for an Italian hoagie, but I couldn’t decide where to go.  I remembered that I had a gift card to TJ’s, so I went there.  I got a pack of Genoa Salami and Provolone in one package (I am sorry I forget the name), Pepperonis, Ham and baguette.  I ran home and threw it all together.  To my dismay, the bread was slightly stale.  It was still ok just for a sandwich.  I decided not to bake it because of the salami and pepperoni – I just got visions of oil streaming out of my sandwich.  Even with the stale bread, the meats and cheese were fantastic.  High quality and just really hit the spot.  None of it, but the bread, was TJ’s brand.  The Salami and Provolone were Italian as was the Pepperoni.  The Ham was no nitrates, no preservatives, etc.  I think maybe from Applegate farms?  Sad that the only thing that was bad was actually FROM the store.

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Fleishmann’s Homestyle Bread Review

My very first product review. Are you as excited as I am? Well, I was excited about the product, but it didn’t turn out as good as I had hoped.

It came with a packet of sugar a packet of yeast and a bag of bread mix. I put it all together and made a round loaf to go with some chili a friend made. It was true to the box that it only took about an hour start to finish. I was disappointed in the size of the finished loaf. The box said that it wouldn’t double in size, but it didn’t seem to rise at all.

Before Rise

After Rise

The box suggested slicing the top of the list, but I think it should have been a requirement. I ended up with a weird mushroom type thing going on. I was so not happy when I saw that. I routinely checked the temp in the oven, so I know that it didn’t over bake it and cause this.

It was ok tasting, but I could probably make a loaf for less money. These cost about 3-4 dollars (I forget exactly) I had a coupon which is why I gave it a whirl. I don’t think that I would buy it again without a coupon, but there was one inside the box for a dollar off. I may try one of their other loaves, but I am trying to decide if it is worth it or if I should just make my own.

There is one thing that I bought recently that I would wholeheartedly endorse to anyone who likes peppermint patties. I found these at my local Big Lots and decided to grab them. I am so glad that I did. They were SOOO good. I actually have already emptied the bag 😮 I may have to run up there and buy several more bags. I don’t think I have ever seen them before, but since they were at Big Lots, I am worried that they are on their way out.

Throw together meal

This has been one of those weeks.  Work dragged, I felt like crap and I just didn’t feel like cooking at all.  Today, I am feeling better, but not the best.  I was tired before I even got home from work, but I still needed to get something for dinner.  These are the days that everyone is tempted to just roll through the drive thru and pick something up.  I wanted to do that too, but I knew I had plenty of food in the house.  I decided on a quick throw together meal with things I always have around the house.

Ingredients (yes, I always have pasta and sauce.  Just lucked out with the patties – don’t you keep frozen breaded veggies?  lol)

A quick boil, measure out the sauce and leave that with the pasta on the stove to keep warm.  The patties went into the toaster oven to bake/toast/broil.  Yep – used all of that to get them finished.  Why?  Cause I couldn’t remember how I did it last time that got them all crispy.  Still turned out pretty good.  Look at all this food!!  I sprinkled on some cheese cause I’m fancy like that 🙂

I did take a piece of bread and swipe up all the leftover sauce.  Everyone does that, right?  For all that, I only had 493 calories, 78 carbs, 14 fat and 20 protein.  Not perfect – but a whole lot better than any take-out meal that isn’t a salad.  And cheaper, too.  From the first picture to the last, it was only 25 minutes.  It probably would have been quicker if I could figure out how to cook the patties more efficiently.

I would have room for ice cream (read enough calories and fat in my range), but I can’t have it – see the not feeling well above.  I have asthma that has been acting up.  In addition to not breathing, I have to stay away from dairy products.  So no milk, large amounts of chocolate, ice cream, yogurt, etc.  Way to kick me when I’m down, nature!!  jerk……

Freezer Dinner – courtesy of Trader Joe’s!

Tonight was a combination of lazy and not making it home last night to thaw anything for dinner. I reached into the freezer reserves and made a meal completely from Trader Joe’s products. Generally they taste good, but for some of their meals, I have no idea where they come up with their portion sizes. The picture below contains half of the bag of Shrimp Stir Fry which supposedly contained 2.5 servings. I served it over ½ cup of their Rice Medley and alongside a Stir Fried Vegetable Egg Roll. Not too bad, a little small, but still good. Tastes like guilty food, but the calories aren’t too bad.  Enjoy!