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Archive for the ‘Heat and Eat’ Category

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

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Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza ReviewPapa Murphys is the result of the consolidation of two mini-chains in the early 1980s. Papa Aldos in suburban Portland, OR, and Murphy’s in Petaluma, CA.

The unique hook for the now global, 1500+ store chain is (as far as I know) the only national chain offering strictly “take and bake” pies.  They make them to your specification at the store, you tote ’em home and bake them.  There was some discussion of them starting to bake in-house, and delivery, too, but as far as I can see, neither has happened.

Sidebar: There was a take and bake operation in my hometown, independent, (don’t remember the name)  long before Papa Murphys started sprouting up everywhere. For some reason, my mom loved the place and the concept. Add to that, it was on top of a generic ‘take and bake’ (kidding) soda store, the “Pop Shoppe” which had a ton of flavors of soda, value priced, under their own name. Wonder what happened to them?  (OK, just found out, they were born, had explosive growth, died, now on the comeback trail)  (Backspace to the link, if you’re interested).

Anyway, Papa Murphys has a fairly large menu choice of toppings, types, and sizes.  I went with the five meat “stuffed”, which is crust, cheese, toppings, another crust, more toppings, more cheese.  This one packs Red Sauce, Canadian Bacon, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, and Bacon topped with Ground Beef. They are big and they are heavy. There is a 14 and 16 inch size, and either one is priced at about half a comparable pie at local shops around me.

Takes awhile to bake, of course, but it’s satisfying and filling. No skimping on the toppings or cheese. Slightly sweet sauce. “Bread like” crust.  Overall appealing.  Easily feed your family.  Better (IMHO) than the big three, for sure.  They offer a couple sides, salads, and desserts.

Papa Murphys are everywhere. Check the website to find a store near you.  Menu below. Postscript. I went to the store in Woodstock IL (you’d recognize the town, where they filmed “Groundhog Day.”)   I had a coupon, and the owner said he couldn’t accept it, but he’d give me the same deal.  OK.  And he did.

 

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

Right from the store

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

Out of the oven at home

 

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

Menu – click to enlarge

Papa Murphy's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review
Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

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Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review – An Aldi Product

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Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza ReviewAnother Aldi product this week, actually did this one some time back, didn’t write it up. Mama Cozzi’s is the brand name the Aldi grocery chain has cooked up for their frozen and fresh (take and bake) pizzas.

I’ve tried a lot of them, including the one I wrote about directly below, and a “Mega Meat” thin crust previously. All of these are a terrific value, price wise and are mostly pretty good product.

Aldi contracts out all of their manufacturing, and this product is made by Better Baked Foods, out of North East, Pennsylvania, a burg parked between Cleveland and Buffalo.  They started in 1970 and have since built a large operation, which in addition to private label manufacturing, also has some of their own brands which was recently acquired by Minnesota pizza giant Schwans (Red Baron, Freschetta, Tonys). (Better Baked plant pictures below).

The French bread pizza comes in a two pack, different varieties, I chose pepperoni this time, and it’s not a microwave product. Given a choice with junk that gives you either option, I’m gonna pick a conventional oven every time, anyway.

The bread was crispy, the sauce benign, I liked the pepperoni, wished for more cheese, but overall, I was happy with it compared to “national brands.” It holds its own.

Like all Aldi products, it is value priced.  Aldi is currently on a tear in the US to have more fresh products in the store, remove product from cartons, and nicer lighting. The German chain currently has 10,000 stores worldwide.  There’s probably one or more near you.

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Out of the box

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Out of the oven

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Pennsylvania Factory

 

 

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review

 

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Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review – Home Cookin’

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Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips ReviewI’m not much for ‘heat and eat’ products, tho I do try them from time to time to see if they’ve improved. For the 40-50 years there has been frozen “crispy” food – chicken, fish, whatever, I’m quite surprised the industry hasn’t licked “crispy” yet. Apparently not a priority.

I especially don’t like microwaved (or reheated) chicken. I think the injected solution they put into processed chicken causes the muscle to break down when heated. The resulting texture is hard for me to stomach. Or chew.

But I thought I’d try a heat and eat meal this week and went for some Tyson’s Crispy Chicken Tenders and Ore-Ida microwave fries. The chicken turned out like I thought – the breading wasn’t crispy and the meat was a little “mushy” for lack of a better word.  I cooked three pieces, ate one, not sure what I’ll do with the rest. Maybe I can peel the breading and use the bird in soup.

The preparations for the Ore-Ida fries is quite elaborate. They have one of those “foil” coatings inside the box you use for cooking. Remove the top piece, spread out the fries in a single layer, place the top back in the box to it is resting ON TOP OF THE FRIES.  Microwave for four minutes. Let rest for a minute.

They aren’t bad. Don’t compare with the oven baked Ore-Ida (I am a guy who can’t pass up their tots or ‘crowns’) and in fact, at four minutes, they might be a little TOO crispy. So I’d try them again, depending on the price, and put them in for a little less time. It’s a single serving by the way.

That’s all I know about this.  I’ve driven around the country from time to time and gone on a “tenders smackdown.”  Here’s my report from the Southeastern U.S.

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

 

 

 

 

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

 

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Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

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Red Baron Deep Dish Singles ReviewI like to check in with the mainstream frozen pizza choices once a year or so.  See if they’ve improved, changed at all.

For the most part, I don’t care for any of them, with the exception of hyperlocal brands like Vito and Nicks in Chicago (absolute #1 favorite), and for the pies at Trader Joes that are made in Italy and France and actually taste like they came from a pizzeria.

Why can’t US manufacturers do that?

So I saw Red Baron Deep Dish Singles the other day at a dollar store.  For a dollar. Thought I’d give one a whirl. Red Baron is a brand of Minnesota’s Schwan Food Enterprises and was introduced in 1975. It’s made in a plant in Marshall, MN (pictured below).

I am dubious about almost any food that says it can be cooked in EITHER a microwave or conventional oven, and 99.9 % of the time I’d opt for the oven.  But since they market these as microwaveable, thoughtt I’d give that a shot.

Spoiler alert:  it was horrid. In appearance, taste, and texture.  I suppose they’re acceptable for kids for a quick after school snack (except for the nutritional value part), and especially for a buck.  But if I was looking for a quick snack for a buck at the dollar store, I’d rather have White Castle burgers, which actually DO microwave well and are done in one minute.

That’s all  I learned that Red Baron frozen pizzas are every bit as awful as the last 5-10x I tried them. I see no need to try again.  (Right now, I’m eating a Screamin’ Sicilian All Meat Pie, and they aren’t so bad).  One of a half dozen brands from Palermo, in Milwaukee.

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Out of the box

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Colonel Kurtz: “The horror, the horror.”

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Marshall, MN Factory

 

 

 

 

 

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Review

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Great Value Beef Meatballs Review – WalMart Nationwide

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Great Value Beef Meatballs Review“Great Value” is one of  the in-house brands for many WalMart products. They aren’t actually manufacturered by WalMart, of course, they are contracted out to be made to Bentonville’s specifications.

I take great pride in my own meatballs, it’s a recipe that I have screwed around with for decades. When I make them, I do throw them in sauce to cook from a raw state, but I rarely, ok, never serve them with pasta. A waste of bodily capacity, if you ask me, sticking noodles in where more meat could go. But that’s just me. OK, and anybody I serve meatballs too.

But I keep looking for store bought ones to fill the gap, cause my homemade effort is a lot of work and doesn’t get done that often. I’ve found some great ones at Italian delis, but unfortunately, the two I have been to are easily an hour drive – in good traffic.

So I spotted these at WalMart, all beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, milk, spices. Relatively “pure” ingredients. They come frozen, but pre-cooked, so they are just a heat and eat product. If you had made a marinara, red gravy, spaghetti sauce, you could just toss them in the pot til they were heated through.

Verdict?  They’re ok.  Not as good as mine or the deli’s, but certainly less expensive. Handy for a harried household at least.  The flavor is fine, could be a little stronger, I  think, fennel and garlic if I was in charge, and I’d make the texture a little firmer, a little less on the bread crumb and milk mixture.

The balls are made for WalMart in Tracy, CA at American Custom Meats, a processor of meat products for retail and food service. It’s a sparkling new plant (pictured below).

Great Value Beef Meatballs Review

Hean and eat

Great Value Beef Meatballs Review

Dissected view

Great Value Beef Meatballs Review

Tracy California Meatball Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

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Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have  spawned in those areas, including the mini chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard grub on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave, or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chucks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crock pot, throw it in before leaving for the factory, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregular sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6 pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even liked the applesauce, which isn’t really sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Dine in / Carryout menu. Locations.

 

Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Prior to heating

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Out of the oven

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal Review

Memphis Factory

 

 

 

 

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

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Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

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Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have been spawned in those areas, including the mini-chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard fare on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chunks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crockpot, throw it in before leaving for the plant, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregularly sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6-pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even like the applesauce, which isn’t really a sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Out of the box

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

After heating

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Factory in Memphis

Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

 

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Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review – from Devanco Foods

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Billy Goat Frozen Burger ReviewThe restaurant part of the legend of the Billy Goat Tavern began on Chicago’s South Side in 1934. Greek immigrant William Sianas paid $205 for the Lincoln Tavern.

In 1964, Sianas moved the bar to its current subterranean location, and it’s here, underneath Chicago’s Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue, that the modern part of the legend originated.

The bar was located midway between the Chicago Tribune Tower and the rival Chicago Sun Times building; it became a popular hangout of reporters trying to steal each others scoops (or brag about their own).

1978,the 3rd season of Saturday Night Live, and cast members John Belushi, Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray did a sketch about the fictional “Olympia Cafe” which paid homage to the proprietor and staff of the Billy Goat. At the Olympia there was no food choice other than cheeseburgers and chips, no drinks but Pepsi, and the refrains uttered comedically by Belushi (with a “Greek accent”) were actually heard frequently at the Billy Goat.

Fast forward today the Billy Goat has multiple locations, but the ambiance of the original remains intact. As you walk down the stairs from Michigan Avenue, you might think you’re walking into the river or some dark hell, but at the bottom the welcome neon of the Billy Goat beckons you in.

They have apparently made a licensing deal with Devanco, a Chicago foods company that started in 1993 and was purchased and amped up in 2004. Previously, they sold mostly supplies to Greek restaurants, like gyro meat, pitas, and sauces.Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

They’ve expanded to the retail arena, and in addition to  Greek offerings like a home Gyro Kit, they manufacture and distribute foods for Mike Ditka’s brand. Their (his) version of Italian beef is superb.

This week (4/24/17) Devanco started selling 2 pound boxes of 100% ground beef patties with Billy Goat’s name on them; there are two versions, 5 patties to a pound, or 3 patties to a pound. The two pound boxes check out at over $12, and that’s a lot.

The patties are made in Devanco’s suburban Chicago plant (pictured below).

I’ve tried quite a few ‘heat and eat’ burgers, and not really been happy with them, and especially those that are restaurant branded like Trader Joe’s, Pasture Perfect Kobe, Fatburger or Steak N Shake.There are both raw products (like Billy Goat’s) and there are some fully cooked patties available as well, like Ball Park brand‘s version. I’ve also tried maybe dozens of microwave, c-store, vending machine burgers, you can find those on the site by searching for “gas station food” or “heat and eat.”

The cooking instructions for the Billy Goat are no different than most frozen patties, skillet, medium heat, 3-4 minutes one side (until the juices start to ooze through), flip, couple more minutes.

I was eager to taste these since they have zero additives.  As in NONE. Some brands of  frozen patties include beef broth, cow heart(!!) and liquid smoke. Here I’m getting cow only.  So what’s the verdict?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. I am not going to, under any circumstances I can think of, pay  $12 for frozen burger patties. No matter if they were the best burger you ever had, that’s a good 30-40% above their largest competitors.

Second bit of ‘bad news.’ The patties are packaged in 5 packs inside the box. Which means I have to separate, put in a different bag or container and refreeze any that I don’t use at the time. Luckily, the patties are separated by what the industry calls “patty paper,” which makes them easy to separate.

So I removed one and semi-followed the instructions. With a frozen patty at medium heat, I flipped after 3 minutes and went 2 more. I tasted the plain patty first before dressing it and putting it on a Martin’s Potato Roll (not what the Billy Goat uses, tho). Dressed with a half sour dill, raw onion and yellow mustard.

Flavor was very beefy, which is good, seems most frozen patties have some sort of strange “undercurrent” of taste, at least to me, and this one doesn’t. I’m also happy with the texture, which closely resembles the grind you’d find in grocery ground beef.  Some competitors reduce their “beef” and other ingredients to a slurry before sending them to the patty forming machine.

In other words, I’m happy with the product, and it does justice to the burger served in the restaurant. I think they’d be great on a charcoal grill.

I’ll be interested to see how this product does.  You have to be a certain age to get the whole SNL connection, and outside of Chicago, it’s not that the Billy Goat is a global iconic brand name.

I said this post was about one part of the Billy Goat legend. There’s a whole other story there. Think Chicago Cubs.  Here’s the dope if you’re interested.

 

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

Frozen Patties

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

3 minutes at medium, flipped

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

All dressed up, ready to go!

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

Box instructions on constructing your burger

Billy Goat Frozen Burgers Review

Devanco’s suburban Chicago plant

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

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Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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Food Club Liquid Eggs ReviewI’ve never tried “liquid eggs” (industry term: breaker eggs), but I see them used quite a bit at charity breakfasts I attend. I do recall having powdered (dehydrated) eggs, which have been around for more than a hundred years.

My experience was on Scout trips – the eggs were pretty awful.  So I set out to do my home experience, and picked up a pint carton of Food Club (TopCo) brand “Great Egg0-Spectations.” The carton promises “contains 99% real egg product. (See full ingredient list at the end of this post).

I can see why they use these at the mass breakfasts, or in commercial bakeries and restaurants. Speed, little waste, consistent product. (As you know, “fresh” eggs can vary in taste and size).

So these were a buck. The carton contains the equivalent of eight eggs. 3 T equal 1 egg.  A reason for buying them would not be value, certainly at any store in any given week, you can find at least one brand at around 50 cents a dozen. Of course, you can pay up to $6 a dozen from the same display case, and obviously, people must buy them or they wouldn’t be there, but I sure don’t get the idea of $6 eggs.

I assumed I could use the product as I would fresh eggs, so I set out to make scrambled eggs, adding a dollop of milk to my mix, cooking them in a non-stick skilled at medium heat. They turned out just fine. Tasted like…………….spoiler alert……………scrambled eggs!

Food Club brand is part of Topco, which is based in suburban Chicago, and started as a co-op of producers in the 1940s. They sell thousands of different products (frozen, refrigerated and dry)  under their own brand names, to a wide variety of retailers. They also produce their products in three different value segments, from a economy type product to an added value kind.

My conclusion is that liquid eggs are tasty and convenient. Would I buy them again? Nah, like I said above, I really don’t “get it” for home use. Plus the carton instructs you to use in a week, and most people keep fresh eggs around for weeks without a care. If you’re really concerned with product longevity, powdered eggs can last 5-10 years, depending on the brand and storage method.

Do you use liquid eggs at home? How do you use them? Do you have a preferred brand?

INGREDIENTS

EGG WHITES (99%), LESS THAN 1%: NATURAL FLAVOR, COLOR (INCLUDES BETA CAROTENE), SPICES, SALT, ONION POWDER, XANTHAN GUM, GUAR GUM, VITAMINS AND MINERALS: CALCIUM SULFATE, IRON (FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE), VITAMIN E (ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE), ZINC SULFATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, VITAMIN B12, VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN), VITAMIN B1 (THIAMINE MONONITRATE), VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE), FOLIC ACID, BIOTIN, VITAMIN D3.

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

 

 

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

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Boston Market Country Fried Steak ReviewBear with me as I take you on this journey of magical heat and eat meals. Today’s example, “Boston Market” Country Fried Steak.

A frozen entree, with mash potatoes and cream gravy. Boston Market, like many companies, does not actually produce this product, but licenses their name to  Bellisio Foods, a company I know a bit about.

Bellisio is the successor to Michelina’s, which in turn was the successor of two early heat/fix and eat food companies, Jeno’s Pizza, and Chun King Chinese foods.

Both companies were started on a shoestring in Northern Minnesota, by local son of an  immigrant entrepreneur, Jeno Paulucci. He built both companies to attain tens of millions in annual revenue, and sold them off, Chun King first, to RJ Reynolds, followed by Jeno’s, which was spun to General Mills to combine with their own “Totino’s” brand.

Most of these foods were produced in my hometown of Duluth, MN, until Jeno had a hissy fit, threatened to move production out of state, and ultimately did – to Ohio. Jeno could be incredibly generous and civic minded, and meaner than moose piss other times.

Years later, he starts a new frozen food company, “Michelina’s,” also based in Duluth (including some production) which he builds up by acquiring other brands in the segment.  Jeno was successful in building another monster company, with production facilities around the country, and distribution around the world.

A number of qualified buyers approached him during the last part of his life, but he rebuffed them all, asking far more than the company was worth. Finally, literally on his deathbed, a transaction was negotiated, but for less than the company was worth.  Fine tuning the operations, the principles flipped the company a few years later to a Thai conglomerate, and made a bundle.

So now you know where this product comes from – intellectually. Physically, it is produced in a factory in Jackson, OH, about a hundred miles east of Cincinnati.

“TV dinners” were introduced by the Swanson Company in 1953-1954.  Swanson was started in 1899 and is stilled around, owned by Pinnacle Foods (formerly Vlasic). The dinners came in tinfoil trays, with separate compartments for entrees, vegetables, and starches. They were heated in a conventional oven – from frozen – for about an hour. They weren’t very tasty.

Today, they are microwave friendly, of course, packaged in plastic, a few minutes from frozen to ‘edible’ tho I still use a conventional oven if the directions are on the box as an option.  Which is what I did today, about 45 minutes at 350, with a ‘potato stir’ in the middle.

And here’s what I say about every single “heat and eat” fried thing I try. After sixty years, don’t you think they could have figured out the science to make crispy things crispy? There are few experiences worse than biting into something you expect to be crispy/crunchy, and having it have practially zero texture.

I like chicken fried steak for breakfast, so I prepped it that way, added eggs, toast. Usually mashed potatoes aren’t a breakfast dish, are they? But that’s how this meal is packaged. How were the potatoes? Better than fast food, not as good as those heat and eat tubs they sell nowadays.

Tactile experience aside, the flavor of the meat was OK.  As was the gravy, but the plate (pictured) becomes one big mess, not at all (of course) like the corporate marketing image. It might help to put the gravy in a separate ramekin. Just sayin’.

I’ve tried other brands of this same entree –  Banquet, Claim Jumper, Advance Pierre, among others.

They’re all about the same. At restaurants, you hit the jackpot when you find a cook that makes his own.  Would I buy this again? Nah. Just did for the novelty, and for the sake of YOU. LOL.

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Frozen, out of the box

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Corporate Publicity Photo

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Out of the Oven

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Plated as breakfast

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

First TV Dinner – 1954

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

 

 

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

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