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Posts Tagged ‘Heat and Eat’

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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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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Supreme Lobster Appetizers

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Supreme Lobster AppetizerHad an occasion to need appetizers this week, but didn’t have time to make them.  A local Chicago company, Supreme Lobster and Seafood, sells quality heat and eat appys to bail you out of just such a jam.

Picked up their bacon wrapped scallops and their lobster rangoon won tons. Both could be ready in less than 20 minutes in a conventional oven.

Sometimes with ‘bacon wrapped’ items, it seems like the bacon seldom gets to a satisfactory “done stage,” but such was not the case with the Supreme product.  Although these weren’t ‘bay scallops,’  they also weren’t full size sea scallops; they may have been the latter cut into manageable portions. In any case, the bites had a great flavor.

As did the lobster rangoon won tons, a dollop of lobster ‘salad’ (with cream cheese) inside a crispy won ton, and yes, the pastries do puff up and get nice and crispy.

For these type of appetizers in the frozen food section of your grocery, expect to pay in the range of $1 per appetizer, which is competitive with any brand.

Should you need massive quantities, try a company like AppetizersUSA, which has a very diverse offering and different quantities to get shipped directly to you.

(The  scallop products are manufactured  for Supreme Lobster by Golden Phoenix Foods of St Louis, a company specializing in Asian appetizers and nibbles).

The plant, pictured below, is about a mile south of downtown off I-55.

Supreme Lobster & Seafood has a retail outlet in suburban Chicago, should you be in need of all manner of fresh and frozen seafood and fish. Store details.

Supreme Lobster Appetizer Review

 

Supreme Lobster Appetizer Review

                                  Lobster Rangoon

Supreme Lobster Appetizer Review

                    Golden Phoenix St Louis Operation

 

 

 

 

 

Supreme Lobster Appetizers

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Red Robin Frozen Onion Rings Review

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Red Robin Frozen Onion RingsI keep hoping that a single one of these restaurant branded foods you find in the grocery is worth buying a second time; unfortunately, in my opinion, that hasn’t happened. This is my second Red Robin product, I tried their fries previously, which didn’t wow me. They are an extruded potato product, something I am never crazy about.

The rings called for baking at 400 for 20 minutes with a flip mid stream. I pulled them out and they weren’t crispy at all, but “crisped up” as the time passed that they were removed from the oven. Downside?  By the time they are crisp, they are cold.

For my personal palate, these had not enough onion compared to the breading. I’m ok with substantial breading, as long as their is substantial onion within!  At least they are better than those frozen rings that use onion bits. But they are also “seasoned,” something I don’t care for.  Their frozen fries were seasoned “hot,” and these have some kind of seasoned salt.

All in all, it was a valiant experiment on my part, but I wouldn’t buy them again. Like any product I write about, you may find them ideal.

Red Robin Frozen Rings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Robin Frozen Onion Rings Review

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Bagel Bites Review

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Bagel Bites ReviewBagel Bites were invented by Stanley Garczynski and Bob Mosher of Florida, and sold out to a larger food company early on. Today they are in the hands of Ore-Ida (Heinz), not sure why, the company doesn’t have any similar products.

They aren’t even mentioned on Ore-Ida’s main website, but have their own home, where you can read all about the different varieties that are offered.

I haven’t tried these for a couple of decades, my recollection is that they used to be a slightly better pizza snack choice than  Jenos/Totinos pizza rolls, which to me, never tasted like anything, let alone pizza.

Verdict?  Well, I’m not going to try pizza rolls to compare, but these are OK, really not much flavor, can bake in the oven or microwave.  Would I buy these regularly? Nah. And way too many ingredients listed for a product this simple.

Bagel Bites Review

Out of the Box

Bagel Bites Review

Conventional Oven Baked

 

 

 

Bagel Bites Review

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Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review

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Lunchable Breakfast ReviewWell this is a curious thing, spotted at WalMart for about a buck. “Lunchables” are “complete” meals to go, to eat heated or at room temperature, and were introduced in 1988 by Oscar Mayer, now part of Kraft.

They were created by a team at  Oscar Mayer as a way to sell more bologna, and the first units were comprised of lunch meat, cheese slices and crackers.

Now there is a plethora of choices, including the original styles, pizza slices,  diminutive hot dogs, burgers, and subs, and even tacos.

I admit to not being a regular customer, but I impulse bought this one, through it in the microwave for seconds and consumed.  I admit it has good flavor, the bacon is great, as is the syrup.  The waffles get kinda limp in the microwave tho, I should have tried one at room temp.

Would I buy it again?  Probably not, but they’re great things for a family on the go, as long as you watch the nutrition labels.  According to the package code, this product is made at  South’s Finest Meats 3201 10th Avenue, Suite S,  Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.

Lunchable Breakfast Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunchable Waffle Stick Breakfast Review

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Digiorno Self Rising Pizza Review

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logoIt may not be delivery, it’s “Digiorno,” but for me, another “d” word motivates me to buy this brand: “desperation.”

Translation? I’m in the mood for a frozen pie and happen to be someplace where this is the only thing available. In the case of last night, at a 7-Eleven, where the self-rising pepperoni was priced at $6.99.

Opening the box, right away I don’t like it, there’s a weird “chemical” smell from the box, which isn’t from the vacuum sealed pizza, but rather ingredients or ink in the cardboard? In any regards, it’s unappealing to me.

Pie-wise, I’m not a fan of thicker crusts. I prefer more cheese and toppings make up the calorie count, rather than bread.

Digiorno is owned by Nestle, along with Jack’s, Tombstone, and some other brands, it was part of a 2010 $3.7 billion acquisition from Kraft, who needed to raise money for other acquisitions. Regardless of what I personally think, apparently Digiorno is the number one frozen brand in the U.S. There’s a reason, I’m sure and it’s not to do with ‘value pricing,” though I did see a woman earlier in the day at a grocery picking up a half dozen, as they were on sale for less than $4 a pop.

It’s a very “non offensive,” pizza, mild toppings, mild sauce, fairly adequate cheese, and it’s probably very filling for a family meal, due to the calories in the bread.

In all fairness, before this pizza hits by pie hole, it has been seriously altered at home, with more toppings, spices, and herbs. So it’s not a very unbiased ‘review.’

The pies are made at a massive factory in Little Chute, Wisconsin, at USDA establishment M5754. Little Chute is parked along the Fox River adjacent to the Appleton-Neenah area. (pix below).

The pies have a whole raft of ingredients, including the dreaded mechanically separated chicken, something I try and avoid.

INGREDIENTS: ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), WATER, LOW-MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), PEPPERONI MADE WITH PORK, CHICKEN AND BEEF (PORK, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, BEEF, SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF SPICES, DEXTROSE, PORK STOCK, LACTIC ACID STARTER CULTURE, OLEORESIN OF PAPRIKA, FLAVORING, SODIUM NITRITE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, PAPRIKA, NATURAL SMOKE FLAVOR, BHA, BHT, CITRIC ACID), TOMATO PASTE, SUGAR, 2% OR LESS OF WHEAT GLUTEN, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CORN OIL), DEGERMINATED WHITE CORN MEAL,YEAST, SALT, DEGERMINATED YELLOW CORN MEAL, SEASONING BLEND (SALT, SPICE, DRIED GARLIC), BAKING POWDER (BAKING SODA, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE), DATEM, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, ASCORBIC ACID (DOUGH CONDITIONER)

CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT.

Digiorno Review

Before baking

Digiorno Review

Side view slice

Digiorno Review

Wisconsin Factory

Digiorno Self Rising Pizza Review

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Circle A Ranch Country Fried Beef

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Advanced Pierre Country Fried Beef ReviewI’ve written a whole lot about  the products from Cincinnati-based Advance Pierre, the premiere “heat and eat” and “gas station sandwich” maker in the U.S.  Often, besides in vending and C-stores, you’ll find their frozen products at dollar stores.

You know how much I love chicken fried steak?  I’ve tried it all over the country, both from restaurants and the heat and eat varieties.

This product was made in the plant pictured below, and is comprised of beef, mechanically separated turkey, and, not kidding, about 150 other ingredients.  Nuke of 90 seconds, stir “gravy,” nuke another 30, let sit for 30, and then “enjoy.”

Now ordinarily, I’d put this product in the category of “I tried so you don’t have to.”  But I didn’t really “try” it.  I had one bite and it was so awful, I couldn’t go on.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Advanced Pierre Country Fried Beef Review

Frozen, pre microwaving

Advanced Pierre Country Fried Beef Review

After microwaving

Advanced Pierre Country Fried Beef Review

Advance Pierre Plant, Amherst, Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circle A Ranch Country Fried Beef

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Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel Melt

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Better Bakery Ham and Cheese PretzelNew from Better Bakery, the Southern California specialty bread and pretzel manufacturer, is the Ham and Cheese Pretzel Melt, deli sliced ham, cheese within an enclosed pretzel roll.  Oven or microwave prep is allowed, and I went with the former, 350 for 25 minutes, from a frozen solid state.  It’s good, fast, and cheap.  Salty pretzel roll, crispy exterior, and tasty fillings.  I got mine at Wal Mart, amidst the frozen sandwich section, generally next to the pizzas.  Highly recommended.

The USDA establishment number is M44128, which leads us to a Valencia, CA address. (pictured below).
Here is a little video the company had on YouTube.

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Wrap in foil prior to oven

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Out of the oven, crispy, melty

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Valencia, CA HQ

 

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