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Fast Bites Sliders Review – Advance Pierre

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Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance PierreI’ve reviewed a lot of products that I commonly call “gas station foods,” or ready to eat and heat and eat sandwiches.

Often these are from one of the industry giants, Advance Pierre, (hereinafter AP) which also recently acquired a sizable competitor, Landshire. Past reviews on this site include Advance Pierre’s Sausage and Cheese Biscuit, Big Az Cheeseburger, and their Pretzel Cheeseburger.

Today I checked out their cheeseburger sliders, which were found at Dollar Tree, packaged two in a box. These can generally be thought to compete with frozen White Castle sliders.

The Advance Pierre sliders are microwave ready, about a minute, but using the “old method” of removing the sandwiches from their plastic wrapping and tucking them into a paper towel.  This used to be White Castle’s instructions also, but now theirs are heating directly in their packaging.

In the case of either sandwich, it can be difficult to master the heating process.  One can end up with a part that’s rock hard or ice cold. Today, heating worked out pretty universally successful.

The AP‘s buns are much softer than White Castle’s, tho substantial enough to deal with the burger and any toppings you care to add. The burger has less flavor than White Castle, probably due to the latter having the equivalent of the restaurant’s flavor/method of being cooked on a bed of onions.

The AP ingredient list lists “cooked onion” but the flavor isn’t evident.  I was surprised, but happy about the fact, that AP’s patties aren’t bathed in liquid smoke, as a lot of heat and eat burgers are, a method to simulate outdoor grilling.

All in all, with condiments of my (or your choice), this is a pretty good product for a quick snack, or to pop something economical in your kid’s mouths. They aren’t terribly unhealthy in terms of fat, sodium, or carbs.

I’ll buy them again, and keep a few on hand. Why not?

Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance Pierre

Frozen out of package

 

Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance Pierre

After 60 seconds in microwave

 

 

 

 

Fast Bites Sliders Review Advance Pierre

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DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Pizza Review

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DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Pizza ReviewQuite often, when I buy frozen pizzas, I feel like Charlie Brown’s experience with Lucy holding the football. Yet I don’t learn. (P.S., I have had relationships like that, too! LOL)

There are two or three frozen pizzas I rate as exceptional on every level, but unfortunately, as one might suspect, none of these are in the ‘mass market’ offerings.

DiGiorno (Delissio in Canada) was created in the mid 90s by Kraft.

Apparently bored of the segment, they sold off their pizza brands to the international robber barons of water, Nestle. (DiGiorno, Jack’s, Tombstone and California Pizza Kitchen).  Kraft picked up $3.2 billion. Nestle got the #`1 frozen pizza brand.

“It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” goes their commercials.  Good thing it’s not delivery, I would have asked for my money back.

The “Bacon Me Crazy” stuffed crust pie (crust rim is stuffed with cheese and ‘bacon’) falls into the higher price range of thin crust frozen pizzas, at about $8.  Taking it out of the box, frozen, it looks more like the one dollar variety pies from Totinos.  At least to me.

The box informs me this pizza is made at USDA establishment number 1682 A, which is a contract manufacturer called “Nation Pizza,” in Schaumburg, IL. They manufacture frozen foods of all ilks. I’ve driven by the plant many times. (Pictured below, as well).

Following the baking instructions precisely, the crust remained rather doughy, and the minuscule diced toppings might not have even been there. They didn’t really provide any flavor or tactile experience to the pie. The sauce leans towards the sweet side. The “smoke flavoring” is very present.

Whether or not the rim is actually ‘stuffed’ is open for debate.

I had two squares, and then did something I NEVER do. Tossed the rest. Perhaps the raccoons will like it. I sure didn’t.

Lots of ingredients:  Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Part-Skim
Mozzarella Cheese with Modified Food Starch (Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese [Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes], Modified Food Starch,
Methylcellulose), Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Applewood Smoked Cooked Bacon (Bacon [Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrate], Smoke Flavoring), Tomato Paste, Genoa Salami (Pork, Beef, Salt, Dextrose, Spice, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Wine, Flavoring, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Citric Acid), 2% or Less of:
Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil and/or Corn Oil), Yeast, Bread Crumbs (Bleached Wheat Flour, Yeast, Sugar, Salt), Vegetable Oil Shortening
(Palm Oil, Natural Flavor, Beta Carotene [Color]), Sugar, Salt, Seasoning Blend (Salt, Spice, Dried Garlic).

Nation Pizza photos from their website.  Product photos are my own.

DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Pizza Review

Prior to baking

DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Pizza Review

Close up – slice – “stuffed” part is bottom right

Exterior Nation Pizza

Exterior Nation Pizza

Digiorno Bacon Me Crazy Review

Nation Pizza Sauce Squirter

Digiorno Bacon Me Crazy Review

Nation Pizza – Fixing the toppings before packaging

 

 

 

DiGiorno Bacon Me Crazy Pizza Review

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Lombardis Italian Sausage Review

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Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage ReviewRarely have I been able to find out so little about a product that I really wanted to share with you – I’m that excited about it. “Lombardi’s” is apparently a small/boutique/artisan sausage maker out of Chicago, which may or may not be owned by a small packer named Roma.

I have to say “may be owned” because I can’t find a reference to that one way or another, but I was able to determine that Lombardi’s is made in the small Roma plant. (Pictured below).

Various business sites list Roma has having sales of less than $750,000 annually, and between 5-10 employees. That’s a labor of love.

Speaking of love, I adore this product, Lombardi’s (Hot) Italian Sausage. Check out the ingredient list:  Pork, Water, Salt, Sugar, Spices, Paprika. Wow. Fantastic, huh?  Well, I think so.

The flavor is terrific, texture is perfect, and the casing makes for a great snap, if you’re having on a bun, whether you cook on the stove top or grill.

I made half the package like that and bunned them with kraut, and the rest I stripped the casings off of and pinched pieces to dot the top of a home made pizza. Superb. Bravo. Really.

But this company is so small, you’ll probably not be able to share my enthusiasm, unless you’re in the Chicago area and spot the sausages in a local supermarket.  I found mine at Woodman’s, a regional chain in Wisconsin and Illinois.

I love these babies.

Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage Review

 

Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage Review

Roma Packing Chicago

 

Lombardis Hot Italian Sausage Review

 

 

 

Lombardis Italian Sausage Review

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White Castle Frozen Fries Review – Nationwide Grocery Product

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White Castle Frozen Fries ReviewSome years ago, an “expert” told me in the future, half the products in a grocery store will be branded restaurant foods.  I scoffed.

Shouldn’t have, he was right.  No matter your favorite fast food or casual dining choice, it’s very likely you’ll find products with their names on them in the frozen food section of your grocery.  Who knew?  (Except that expert).

I’ve written about White Castle often, America’s oldest burger chain, they’ve had frozen burgers in the store for a long while, maybe one of the first chains to embark down this road.

Today I tried out their frozen crinkle cut fries, which is a new offering (at least to me).  I’ve taken to crinkle cuts lately, and it seems so have many fast food chains, someone somewhere thinks they are “retro” and since we all hunger for the past, they’ve popped up on a lot of menues.  Fine with me. I’ve had them at Zaxby’s, Shake Shack,  Culvers, as well as that granddaddy of iconic Chicago hot dog stands, Superdawg.  All excellent.

I had pretty low expectations for the White Castle variety, most of the frozen fast food sides I have tried have been somewhat of a disappointment, hardly resembling the restaurant product.

Delightfully, my expectations were exceeded, and these crinkles are crisp and tasty out of the oven. Instructions are to bake them at a higher temp than most frozen fries, and I suspect that’s one key to their success;  I caution you to keep an eye on them in the oven, because they can go from hot and crispy to rock like in a hurry.

I think they are a fair representation of the restaurant product, perhaps a wee bit smaller, not sure.  I’ll remember to check next time I’m in a Castle. And yes, I’d buy these regularly.

White Castle Frozen Fries Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Castle Frozen Fries Review

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Hometown Bagels Review

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Hometown Bagels ReviewHaving been a bagel muncher for many decades, I was suprised to note in a store the other day a package of “Chicago style” bagels. Who knew? Whereas most consumers of bagels (and pizza for that matter) are familiar with “New York Style” bagels (and pizza), afficianados insists “it’s the water” that makes those products different.

Around the country, various enterprises have popped up claiming to be able to duplicate “the water” to provide an authentic New York bagel experience. There’s even a small chain,mostly in Florida, but with an outlet in Beverly Hills, as well.

So anyway, turns out there are “Montreal style,” “Toronto style,” “New York Style,” “Chicago style” and a gaggle of other “styles.” There are even “Los Angeles style,” and the big company outthere is Western Bagel, a wholesaler and retailer. I used to like going to their factory store in the valley in  the middle of the night, where you could buy ’em ‘fresh.’ They also sell online.

The primary difference between New York and Chicago? New York bagels are boiled, then baked. Chicago are ‘baked with steam.”

Now you know. As to I. These “Chicago Style” bagels are made by a company called “HometownBagel” in Alsip, IL (which really isn’t Chicago). Maybe they should change the name to “Chicago Area Style Bagels?”

So I ate one. Tasted like a bagel. BTW, my favorite flavors of all bagels made anywhere? Salt, followed by everything, followed by pumpernickel. That’s it.

Hometown Bagels Review

@Hometownbagel

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Dutch Farms Frozen Cheeseburger Review

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box3I’ve tried a lot of these ‘heat and eat’ burgers, some full cooked, some raw that you have to cook. It’s a long list of these sandwiches that I have slogged through, 7-Eleven, Trader Joes, Fatburger, SteaknShake, Ball Park, Biz Az, of course White Castle, and so many others.

Today’s entry is from Dutch Farms, a frozen food manufacturer in Chicago, mostly focused on dairy and bakery goods, but they also make heat and eat meals.  Funny that I don’t ever recall seeing the brand before, but maybe they are huge in the private label business.

The frozen burger comes complete with cheese and bun, wrapped in cello, the instructions tell you to open one end of the cello, heat 90 seconds and then let rest a minute before consuming.

I did. Added mustard and pickle.  Flavor was ok, it has some ‘smoke’ flavor added to emulate a grill, texture was ok, my complaint about this (and nearly all of them) are that the buns and meat don’t require the same attention in the microwave, so invariably, one or the other is overcooked or undercooked.

In this case, the bread is just nuked to a pulp (not literally) but it is way too soft to hold a substantial amount of toppings, if that’s they way you choose to dress your burger.

On the plus side, this was a little more than a buck at WalMart.  A lot of carbs and fat, but if you’re ok with that, buy a bunch to keep in the freezer for after school.

Which ones do I like the best?  Uncooked, the Trader Joes.  Cooked?  Ball Park. (they aren’t complete, the bag only contains the beef patties).

Dutch Farms Frozen Burger Review

Out of package

Dutch Farms Frozen Burger Review

90 seconds in microwave

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Farms Frozen Cheeseburger Review

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Emils Frozen Pizza Review

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Emils Frozen Pizza Review“Exceeds Expectations,” the package of Emil’s Pizza boasts.  And you know what?  It did, for me.  And I was surprised that it did.  Making “Real Good Pizza Since 1961,”  Emil’s is based in Watertown, WI, and must be another one of those Upper Midwest pizzas that got its launch as a local mom and pop  selling frozen pies to bars. (I’m guessing).

I picked up the traditional thin crust sausage pie, which weighs in at 21.6 oz (Now 20% larger!).  It was $6.99 at one of my local grocers, which puts it in the “medium value” range for frozen pizzas.

After taking it out of the package, I was immediately leery of the diced approach to the cheese, figuring it would not be adequate to cover the pie. I also noted that there was an ample quantity of sausage, but the pieces were relatively small.

Well, surprise!  It did exceed my expectations, and I’d buy it again.  It’s a good crisp version of the thin crust, the Wisconsin cheese melted and covered nicely, the sauce did not have an intrusive flavor and the sausage was fine.

Good job, Emil’s!

Emils Frozen Pizza Review

Unbaked

 

Emils Frozen Pizza Review

Fully baked (I added the olives)

 

Emils Frozen Pizza Review

Watertown, WI Factory

 

 

Emils Frozen Pizza Review

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Parkview Hot Italian Sausage Review (Aldi’s Brand)

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Parkview Aldi Sausage ReviewParkview is Aldi’s house brand for many of their meat products. Their ” Parkview Hot Italian Sausage,” is a smoked sausage, whereas most companies (and grocers) sell their Italian sausage as “fresh” (uncooked).  Smoked sausages like hot dogs, are fully cooked, so they only require a quick heat and eat, if that’s your preference.  This product is made for Aldi by Salm Partners in Denmark, WI.  They specialize in ‘cooked in the package’ meat products.

This is a “skinless” product meaning it’s not in a natural casing. The casing is made from collagen and is very thin, so that tactile experience that usually comes with biting into a sausage is not there.  It’s also truly “hot,” meaning it’s a lot spicier than most of the big name offerings.

I’ve reviewed other Parkview products in the past, including Hot and Spicy Smoked Sausage, Cocktail Links, and Beef Wieners. Aldi markets consistently reliable products at value prices.

Parkview Aldi Sausage Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parkview Hot Italian Sausage Review

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Krave Jerky Review

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Krave Jerky ReviewI like jerky. I’m always in the hunt for new brands to find the ideal one for my personal taste. I like them beefy, smokey, slightly salty, and chewable. My favorite is one of the national snacks of South Africa, which I reviewed, and you can order online.  I like that product as it is actual strips of beef muscle, instead of a processed product.

A few years ago, I made a trek to the factory outlet store for Jack Link‘s, in a small Wisconsin town near where I was brought up.And some top chefs in Chicago came up with their own brand which is very tasty.

Well, “West Coast” friends of mine have been crowing about Krave brand jerky for some time. “The best ever,” “unbelievable.” Krave was started by Jon Sebastiani, of the wine dynasty, who rapidly ramped it up to a $35 million annual company before flipping it quite early in its life to Hershey for $220 mil.

Legend has it (and the website) that Sebastiani and some athletic type friends that there was a hole in the market for this type of snack, and targeted to the work out crowd. (Not me, exercise for me is jogging my memory).

Krave touts their gourmet and natural ingredients. I chose the original variety ($3.99 at WalMart, same price as competitors), and the ingredients include:  Beef, Cane Sugar, Gluten Free Soy Sauce (Water, Soybeans, Salt, Alcohol), Honey, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Sea Salt, Granulated Garlic, Onion Powder, Paprika, Spices.

Long and short. I didn’t care for it.  Although well within its expiration date, it was hard as a rock. Not sure if that is intentional or not, but it doesn’t appeal to me. Secondly, it contains cane sugar (why?) which really boosts the carb count, which I guess is good for marathoners, but not for diabetics and weight watchers. Low carb meat snacks are standard fare for the latter in many cases.

Krave has different flavors, and you can order online for about twice the price that I saw in stores.  This may be your dream jerky. As for me, it motivated me to have making jerky at home for this weekend. I used to get great home-made jerky from a dear friend, who eventually went crazy and quit making it.

I’ve got beef strips in marinade here at the burger house. In 24 hours, I’ll start drying it. I’m excited.

Krave Jerky is manufactured at a company in Kentucky called Louisville Processing & Cold Storage. Picture of that facility below.

Krave Jerky Review

Krave Jerky Review

Kentucky Manufacturing Facility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Krave Jerky Review

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Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

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Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

(August 1, 2016) Most of the major frozen pizza manufacturers have been busy rolling out new variations of their products over the last couple years, apparently in an attempt to acquire more freezer frontage in the store, which hopefully translates into sales.

Tombstone, which started in Medford, WI, (map below) as a supplier of frozen pies to bars, grew into a substantial manufacturer before being sold off to Kraft, and then to Nestle.

One of their latest labels is the “Roadhouse” pizza, offering ‘double cheese,’ a crisp crust, and loads of toppings. I picked up the “Bring on the Meat” style, which is topped with Genoa salami, pepperoni, and sausage.

This might be OK as an addition to the value priced end of the frozen pizza spectrum, but unfortunately, it falls into the upper mid range, running about seven bucks at my WalMart.

The salami is a pure pork/beef product, but they’ve mucked up the pepperoni by adding chicken, who knows why. The sausage is more like a plain crumbled pork, with little to no seasoning.

The larger shreds of cheese (see unbaked pic below) are a welcome addition. While they are very few frozen pies that have slices of cheese instead of shreds, the larger the pieces the better the tactile experience, in my opinion.  The crust is ok, not ultra thin, but crispy enough for my taste, but the sauce borders on horrid, like most frozen pies, you can easily imagine it coming out of a 55 gallon drum labeled industrial strength pizza sauce.

It also is flavorless, with no indication is was originally birthed by tomatoes.

I had a couple pieces and then my guests heard me say something no one has ever heard me say in my entire life:  “I’m throwing the rest of this out, ok?” No one objected.  If you’re a regular reader, you know I try and find something positive in every post.  Unfortunately, this pizza is dreadful.

Tombstone varieties.

Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

Unbaked

Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

400 degrees, 18 minutes

 

Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

Tombstone Factory, Medford, WI

 

Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

Medford, WI Location

 

 

 

 



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Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

Tombstone Roadhouse Pizza Review

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