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Posts Tagged ‘Heat and Eat meals’

Lean Cuisine Spinach & Mushroom Pizza

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Boy, was I ever prepared not to like this.  But the cupboards were bare, and while I gave up “4th meal” a long time ago, I was waiting for Mrs. Burgerdogboy to come home from a networking event, so we could watch the latest installment of Sons of Anarchy.

The pizza comes with one of those new-fangled crisping trays, which, in my experience, haven’t worked too well, but are really dependent on how the product is par-baked at the factory.

This “deep dish” pie is topped with Spinach and Mushrooms.  Instructions call for it to be nuked on the special tray for 2 1/2 minutes, then to let it rest for an additional minute.

I followed the instructions to the letter.

While the snack seems to be a boon for those eschewing fat grams (only 7), it’s not so hot for diabetics with 52 grams of carbs.  The ingredient list (in both English and Spanish) very few lab produced ingredients – down to the basics of crust, spinach, mushrooms, cheese.  The spinach was ample, the mushrooms not so much.

The pie did crisp up, and there are baking marks on the bottom; the crust is crispy at the edges, and bread-like chewy in the middle.  The cheese has a nice flavor, and the spinach pre-prepared in such a way that it doesn’t make the end product soggy, which was a ‘fear’ of mine.

Lean Cuisine makes a wide variety of different topping pizzas, including pepperoni, 3-meat, garlic chicken, and vegetable.  The website has a “where to purchase” locator.

While I am very picky about frozen pizzas, and am especially suspect about microwave-prepared ones, I really have no complaints about this product.  I will most certainly try other styles.

These photographs are from the Lean Cuisine website.  Ordinarily I would post my own, but in this instance, my photos don’t look appreciably different than the company-produced pix, which says something in itself!

Lean Cuisine Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

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Fred Meyer Brand Frozen Mini Cheeseburgers

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Fred Meyer Frozen Mini  Cheeseburgers

Fred Meyer Frozen Mini Cheeseburgers

The Kroger Company, one of America’s grocery giant (over 15 store brands, including Kroger, Fred Meyer, QFC, Food4Less, Ralph’s, Fry’s, et al) – has grown a very large stable of store brands, most of which are fairly good and competitively priced.

Do you remember when the first ‘generics’ were launched? Plain white boxes of food with bold black printing? “CEREAL!” the box seemed to scream at you? Or was it “POOR PERSON?!?”. Those days of generics have come and gone, and now “store-branded” is an economical way (generally) to do your grocery shopping.

The closest I come to frozen burgers usually is an occasional pick-up of frozen White Castles.  They run a little under a buck a pop, coming in boxes of six, wrapped in two-at-a-time cello.  It takes a bit to master microwaving these, and I found out the same was true with the Fred Meyer burgers.

Major difference of course, is that the frozen White Castles come with their signature diced rehydrated onions.  The Fred Meyer cheeseburger is condiment free.

Frozen Burgers, Prior to Nuking

It appears that the process of manufacturing these entails the separate frozen patties, but the buns and cheese are ‘split’ from larger pieces (i.e. cheese slice cut in half, larger bun separated into pieces).  It’s not as pronounced as a big fast food chain I went to recently; they started advertising “mini-burgers”, and when served, all they were was one large burger cut in thirds.

The instructions for the snacks say “microwave for 45 seconds, wrapping the sandwich in a paper towel.”   That hasn’t worked for me for White Castles, nor these either.  I would always have the same result – bread heated to the point of being hard, with a still chilled patty.   So I have taken to separating the components (kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?) and microwaving them for different times, the buns for 40 seconds, the meat patties for about 1:10.

Dressed with mustard and dill chips (my choice) these are OK, kids may love them, they are not all that economical (tho cheaper than White Castles), but convenient, I suppose.   The patty has the same texture as most frozen burgers.  I’m not sure what happens to ground beef when it is cooked and flash fried, but there is a molecular change that creates a certain uneasiness in my texture senses.

But that’s just me.

For the real deal, there is nothing like White Castles (or Krystals) at 2am, in a store full of drunks.
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Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Frozen Quiches

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Trader Joe's Frozen Quiches

Trader Joe's Frozen Quiches

I should change the heading to “home heating” instead of cooking, been an awful lot of ‘heat and eat’ at the house this week. 

Today it was personal-sized quiches from Trader Joe’s, and mostly, they were damned tasty. Although you can microwave these (3 minutes), I prefer to do them in the oven (400 for 20 minutes), and they turn out just fine either way.

We had two different varieties today, the “Mexican” (Jack and Cheddar with green peppers) and the “Spinach and Mushroom” the base of which is Swiss.

I preferred the Mexican, and you wouldn’t know there were peppers in it, but it was definitely more cheesey than the Spinach.

They say that most of TJ’s foods are made by major brand names and repackaged, sometimes with a little tweak, sometimes not. But usually the TJ brand is considerably less than the big brand name, and such would be the case if these are made by the significant player in the frozen quiche industry.

 

Trader Joe's Frozen Quiches

Trader Joe's Frozen Quiches

 

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Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Shepherd’s Pie

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Ok, it wasn’t “cooking”, but rather,”heating.”   We picked up a frozen Shepherd’s Pie at Trader Joe’s last week, and Mrs. BurgerDogBoy had a hankering for it last night.  It seemed like the perfect comfort food choice for a snowy night in Portland.

Having lived in London, I’ve consumed my share of shepherd’s pie, good, bad, and indifferent.

According to Wikipedia, the shepherd’s pie first came to light in the late 1700s, but known then as “cottage pie,” and was basically any leftover meat baked in a dish lined and covered with mashed potatoes.  The first reference to the name “Shepherd’s” seems to have occurred about 100 years later, as a distinction from “cottage” containing any type of meat, but “Shepherd’s” being made with lamb.

The classic recipe calls for a layer of mixed vegetables in a casserole dish, topped with meat, and covered with the mash.  The dish is baked first, then set under the broiler to crisp up the potatoes.  On occasion, a pan gravy is mixed in with the vegetables and meat.

Trader Joe’s version is described on the box as “seasoned beef with gravy and vegetables, topped with creamy mashed potatoes.”   It can be heated in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, or conventional oven at 425 for 25-30 minutes.

I chose the latter prep method, as I usually do, but after the required time, the dish was still frozen in the middle, so I finished it in the microwave.  Taking the opposite tack might have been a better idea.

Like most eat and eat products, you should let this one rest for a few minutes after  it is pulled from the oven.

The dish was flavorful, and fairly ample for two servings with 170 calories per serving and 22 g carbs, 1.5 g saturated fat.  That’s not really that unhealthy, if you watch what else you serve it with (we had more mixed vegetables).

We both liked it, and will have it again, I am sure.  On those few occasions when I have made it from scratch at home, I have used ground beef, but using rough cuts of beef was a better idea.

I do not have a photo of the finished product, straight from the oven.  Why?  Er,ah, camera trouble?   Nah,actually, I dropped it.  It wasn’t pretty!  7 second rule applied.

It would appear from the USDA plant number of the package, this product is made for Trader Joe’s by Huxtables of Vernon, CA.

Trader Joe's Shepherd's Pie

Trader Joe's Shepherd's Pie

 

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