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Tuesday
Jun092015

Product Review: B Sweet's Frozen Bread Pudding

A new line of frozen heat-and-eat bread puddings is available at Target stores across the country. B Sweet's rep reached out to me and asked if the Eat This Review team would be willing to review their convenient treats. “Sure,” I said. “But I’m warning you—I’m not much of a bread pudding fan.” She convinced me that she hadn’t been either, but that these might convert me.

Soon after, I received their four flavors of frozen treats in the mail. Not your grandmother’s plain old bread pudding (though maybe your grandma makes a mean one—I can’t say), these treats come in four unique flavors that I’ve never even seen associated with such a desserts: Applie Pie, Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Fudge Brownie, and Glazed Donut. Glazed donut! Not a fan of bread pudding, even I was excited to try such a flavor.

While I suspect one is not supposed to eat the treats frozen, they appeared so ice-cream like that all the taste-testers did. Also, the ingredients list is so long and full of unheard of ingredients (as are most heat-and-eat treats), we figured there wasn’t much raw egg in there to kill us anyhow. Chunky but not bad, we concluded. Well, it is made of bread.

One simply takes the pint-sized treat out of the freezer, peels off the plastic seal, and heats the whole shebang in the microwave for about 4 ½ minutes. Carefully removing the hot cardboard container from the microwave, we tasted each flavor both warm and cold—as if just out of the oven or after setting in the refrigerator. Funny enough, the best case scenario was different for the different flavors.

The whole team preferred the Apple Pie flavor warm, just about 10 minutes after resting from being “cooked.” The caramel drizzle made for a nice flavor addition. I also enjoyed the Cookies ‘n’ Cream flavor slightly warm, as it made the cookie bits stand out. Everyone thought the Fudge Brownie wasn’t great hot or cold, and the Glazed Donut was better cold.

Texturally and creatively, the company did pretty well with this invention. But like most heat-and-eat treats, it just didn’t cut it when it comes to taste or nutrition. Like a Ben & Jerry’s pint that is supposed to serve way too many people (does anyone ever get more than 3 servings out of those things?!), these containers are made to serve 4. It seems unlikely, though the stuff is rich. Perhaps even more so than rich, many of them tasted slightly chemically and far too sweet. I know it’s a dessert, but the amount of sugar in these things could probably kill a baby elephant. Just trust us: every single taste taster, including one teen, felt that the sugar had been way overdone here, making it hard to taste the actual essence of the dish. And at 25% of your saturated fat intake for the day, those sweeteners and chemicals aren’t really helping your body. Not that a dessert should, but the paragraph-long ingredient list on each container scared us all a bit.

As we’ve stated before on Eat This review, heat-and-eat desserts are no easy feat, and nor should they be. If one could avoid baking a cake, cooking a filling, and whipping up a frosting by instead heating something in the microwave for a few minutes, who wouldn’t? But we don’t because the taste is simply not there. Maybe it never will be. Whatever happens, microwaveable cakes have yet to be made successfully. The Apple Pie and Glazed Donut flavors were surely tasty, but every tester found the other flavors too artificial tasting. All the flavors put us in a state of sugar shock.

Try if you dare, but be forewarned if you’re diabetic—or planning on not being.

B Sweet Frozen Bread Pudding

Each 12 oz. container retails for around $4.99 at 250 different Target stores around the country. You can find them in your frozen section. Want to find a store locator? Use this handy page.

Flavors: Apple Pie, Glazed Donut, Fudge Brownie, Cookies ‘n’ Cream, and 16 more I haven't yet tried.

Visit their site here for more information.

Thursday
May142015

Product Review: Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough Steals the Show

Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough cookies are the are-you-sure-these-aren’t-homemade stuff of our dreams. I’ll tell you right away what we loved about them instead of waxing non-poetically about these deliciously sweet desserts.


The texture: chewy, moist, and with the perfect mouthfeel.

The look: not perfect—which is perfect. They’re homemade-looking, not suspiciously factory formed. Varied. Some spread more than others, and some crackle nicely on top (like the Snickerdoodle).

The taste: warm, filling, and sweet. Hey, if I didn’t want it sweet, I’d have ordered a bran muffin.

The flavors: A nice variety with good touches outside the norm. Even the standard chocolate chip is a beautifully tasty chocolate chunk cookie with a pleasing sugar crystal crunch coating.


Honestly, I don’t think any of the Eat This Review tasters have ever had any kind of prepared cookie dough as good as these—and these are frozen, so there is no work involved. Unless, of course, you’re package-opening challenged. One does have to open the box and place the frozen cookies on the sheet.*              *No taste testers at ETR were injured during this process.

 Jen & Joe’s is really all about Jen. Joe rhymes with dough and is married to Jen, so he was a lucky shoe-in. But Jen, having tinkered in the kitchen and even learned math from baking cookies, is the mind behind the company. She even attended pastry school, but has set her sights—thus far—on creative cookie flavors.

These are the few cookies I’ve ever had that look better in person than the package indicates. The Chocolate Chunk is thick and chewy, not flat as the package would indicate—but this can vary from oven to oven. And really, we loved the packaging. It’s simple, colorful, and clear.

The Oatmeal Toffee was our favorite—extremely chewy, filling, and sticky-sweet. The White Chocolate Wasabi is their most daring-sounding cookie, but to most of us it was just a good white chocolate chew—the wasabi was hard to detect. What was easy to detect, however, were the lingering savory flavors of the Chocolate Spice. It’s the Chinese 5 spice of cookies. The Lemon Drop and Snickerdoodle were fairly standard, but much chewier and tastier than I usually manage to make at home. The Chocolate Chunk is wonderfully lumpy, with all the melty chocolate chunks one would want, a chewy bite, and a satisfying crunch of sugar on top. Usually chocolate chip is boring, but these exceeded my expectations.

No defrosting is necessary. You simply open the box and the cardboard/plastic wrapper, then pop the frozen cookie dough balls onto a nonstick baking sheet for 10-15 minutes at 350 or 375 degrees (times vary). No defrosting. No waiting for butter and eggs to be the right temperature. It’s so easy that you’ve heard everything I could say could do it, could do it. Really, it shouldn’t be this easy to have delicious and homemade cookies (because there really aren’t any artificial ingredients in these puppies—especially when compared to a package of Betty Crocker mix). It’s going to make all of us lazy.

Flavors I’d love to see from Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough in the future? I’m sure they have a bunch cooking up their sleeves, but I’d love to see a Blueberry Balsamic or Cream Cheese Berry Truffled Swirl. Or a Blackberry-Citrus Bramble. Or a Caramel Brownie. Heck, anyone can come up with ideas, but Jen actually makes them happen—deliciously. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve these to my family, bring them to a get-together, or eat them any time of day. They’re delicious and literally—literally­—as good as homemade, with a heck of a lot less effort. Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough for the win.

Details:

Visit Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough on their nicely done website here.

Orders can be made online here, with packages available at select markets throughout the U.S. See if there’s an outlet near you on their site.

12-packs are available in 6 flavors: Chocolate Spice, White Chocolate Wasabi, Lemon Drop, Chocolate Chunk, Snickerdoodle, and Oatmeal Toffee.

Thursday
Jul032014

Product Review: Balsamic Vinegars from House of Balsamic

If you’re looking for delicious, affordable, and not-too-sweet balsamic vinegars in delightful flavors, then look no further than House of Balsamic. With eye-catching packaging and flavors like fig, white, and mint, no one will go bored when it comes to cooking and flavoring your cooking.

Whether you’re looking to spice up a Brussels sprouts-onion hash or putting a finishing glaze on a good cut of beef, the quality and variety of House of Balsamic’s fancy flavored vinegars will secure a spot on your shelf.

Just a week after the ETR team spotted this unique, asymmetrical packaging on a local store shelf, a representative from HoB stopped me while at a fancy food show. Coincidence? Fate, methinks.


I was sent a package of several mini-bottles with a delightful array of flavors, including:

White balsamic

Apple balsamic

Fig balsamic

Orange balsamic

Mint balsamic

Traditional balsamic

 

These vinegars are so versatile, they can be used from everything to cheese-prosciutto-melon wraps to main dishes and strawberry-balsamic-ice cream desserts. Fig was my personal favorite, though white wasn’t too far behind. While the white balsamic may have you thinking “mellow,” it actually offered another side of balsamic: less biting and a bit less acidic, but more of a hearty, rich flavor. 

Dipping bread into any of these will make your day, though they’re sublime in anything cooked as well. The apple is magnificent, and the traditional is delicious. Mint may be harder to utilize, but how cool is it to have? Guests especially loved sampling all the flavors when served with a good, crusty, chewy baguette.

In addition to the larger bottles being an eye-catching addition to your spice/condiments cabinet or table, the flavors provided are solid, and will without a doubt lend multi-layered finishing flavors to both sweet and savory dishes.

House of Balsamic sells more than just balsamics: They have balsamic jelly, spreads, dips, breads, pastas, rices, oils, and much more. I tried the balsamic jelly at one of the year's shows, and while I can't say the texture was very different from popping boba, I can say I definitely prefer standard liquid form. Admittedly, "caviars" and popping condiments are all the rage.

Balsamic vinegars can be purchased in grocery and specialty food markets, and also online. 

Prices range from around $12 for 3-oz. bottles to over $500 (and that’s for a 100-year-old bottle of balsamic!).

http://www.houseofbalsamic.com/

 

Wednesday
Jun182014

Product Review: Chocolate Cake that will Bring Tears to Your Eyes (for all the Wrong Reasons)

Cake That! Single-Serve Chocolate Cake from Old World Gourmet

It is with great sadness that we bring you a review of Cake That!, an adorable but ultimately sacrilegious concoction of individual-sized, heat-and-eat cake. To say that it tasted bad—or even slightly chemically—would be an understatement.

Though the folks at Cake That!, part of OWG (Old World Gourmet), were extremely nice, I cannot truthfully give anything but a negative review of their product. Geared to middle-aged women who have little to look forward to in life except for chocolate, these heat-and-et, coffee cup-shaped cakes are actually a great idea for work. Who wouldn’t want to indulge in the middle of the day while at work? Simply add 5 tablespoons of milk, lightly stir, and heat for 75 seconds. What could go wrong?

The problem, unfortunately, lies in the taste. Which unfortunately, in the case of food, constitutes a rather large percentage of the reason people eat. And if this is for indulgence, shouldn’t it be even that much better?

Heat-and-eat foods are no easy feat. In general, the calculated mixing and cooking of something for an hour in an oven is not simple to replicate in a few minutes via microwave. Nor should it be. Cake That! may be God’s way of saying it can’t be done. Though easy to make and delicious-smelling, our servings bordered on inedible. It was the gummy, overly chewy, not-really-cake texture that got us. Well, the layer upon layer of chemical aftertaste didn’t help either. “I think I just ate bleu cheese,” one taster commented. “The first taste isn’t bad, but then it turns spongy and…no.” said another. It was certainly a chemically, soapy concoction that we cooked up, and maybe that’s just how heat-and-eat goods are. I actually can’t think of a food that does taste good when cooked in a microwave. It simply isn’t natural, and I ‘m not convinced it can—or should—be done. To boot, this product is absolutely terrible for you. The first—first!—ingredient is confectioners sugar. It’s followed by bleached flour. A half serving—less than 3 ounces—contains 47 grams of sugar. I don’t even know what to say except that the daily recommended sugar intake for women is no more than 20 grams. Oy. The frothy concoction after emerging from the microwave

I’m sorry I may be destroying some dreams or providing a less-than-stellar review of this product, but the Eat This Review team had no choice. If you so desire to taste this product (though as of summer 2014, it cannot be found on the site), please do let us know if you have a satisfactory experience. We’d be very interested to know.

Peace be with you.

Cake That!, when in stock, retails for less than $5 for a 3-6-oz. serving (before and after cooking with milk you add).

http://www.owgshoponline.com/

Thursday
Feb202014

Product Review: Mama’s In The Kitchen Honey Fried Chicken Breading

When I arrived to one of the most recent foods shows, a fellow ETR taster ran up to me. “You have to try this honey fried chicken breading!” he exclaimed. “It’s so stupidly simple, but I’m addicted.” He led me to the small table, which was hard to see due to the hoards of people crowded around it. Behind the table were three family members—Mama, her husband, and her son--touting just one product: Mama’s In The Kitchen Honey Fried Chicken Breading.

Yellow-golden chunks of fresh fried chicken, tater tots, and fries with toothpicks were put out, but platefuls disappeared within 30 seconds. Here was a family company doing just one thing, but they were doing that one thing so right. We were given a good-sized bag to try out at home.


Hailing from Wilmington, Delaware, Mama’s In The Kitchen is a family-run catering company that decided to package their best seller. The instructions are easy: Shake raw chicken in a bag with the breading, chill, coat again, and either deep fry or oven fry. The same goes for potatoes, French fries, vegetables, tofu* (*this has not been tested), cheese curd, and more. When you pop a bite of any food with this sweet-and-savory fine breading, you just feel warm and southern all over. It’s homey, it’s easy, and it’s actually not that bad for you at all if you go the baking route. Made with different kinds of flours, and spices such as turmeric, honey powder, and cayenne, this will make nearly anyone—whether they’re having hors d’oeuvres or a full meal—crave more while being immensely happy.

Details:

Online ordering is not presently possible on their stuck-in-the-nineties website, but you can email them at mamasinthekitchen@yahoo.com for ordering information.

Recently added to the arsenal: Fried shrimp breading, southern fried fish breading, blackened tilapia seasoning, baked chicken seasoning, and smoke n honey french fry seasoning. We can’t wait to try these new toppings soon!

Honey Fried Chicken Breading comes in 10-oz. bags.