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Posts Tagged ‘Heat and Eat meals’

Richards Cajun Foods Review – Heat and Eat Meals


Richards Cajun Foods ReviewI was suprised to find Richard’s Heat and Eat Cajun foods in a grocer a thousand miles from Louisiana.

It’s not a big company, tho it is on its second private equity owner in a decade, so maybe they have a line on some distribution.

Richard’s is a pretty small company, in a pretty small town in Louisiana, Church Point, population about 5 thou, twenty mile or so NW of Lafayette.  It started in the 80s, so it doesn’t have the longevity of its many competitors (there are over 200 small food companies in Louisiana), not even the legs of Savoie’s – a much larger concern, ten miles east in Opelousas. They’re about twice as old as Richard’s at least.

If you’re the adventurous DIY type, Richard’s has some recipes on YouTube.

I picked up their Etoufee and their Gumbo.  Both are in microwave proof bowls with a cello covering, and should be ready from the microwave in about 5-6 minutes.

Given a choice of microwave, oven or stove top for products like this, I’ll usually opt for non-microwave, but I wanted to see how this worked.  Spoiler alert? It didn’t work.

Instructions were to nuke for 3 minutes, stir, nuke for another 2-3 minutes, let sit a minute before consuming. After the first 3 minutes, still hard as a rock. After the second 3, no improvement.  No, it’s not the microwave, it’s brand new.

So I plopped them into a sauce pan and for the first time, could see the contents. 90% by weight has to be the rice, which cost them about a nickel. A minimum amount of the required “holy trinity” of Cajun vegetables.  A 2-3 shrimps in each dish. Small shrimps, maybe 60-90 size. The gumbo could pass for etoufee or jambalaya, as there was no liquid in it. WTF?

OK, you’re asking, where are the pics of the finished product, plated?  I didn’t plate them. I had a spoonful of each and passed. Rare for me, I’ll eat anything.

You should pass to. Anytime you see private equity move into an industry, you can count on two things. Cutting costs, raising prices. I say that from experience, because not only have I had Richard’s product before and found it perfectly acceptable, but I’ve been in their factory and watched it being made (some years back).

So if you want frozen eat and eat Cajun meals, I have two suggestions. Go with Savoie’s if your grocer carries it, or ask them to get it or buy it online direct.  I also like Chef John Folse’s products, which are available from, a company I’ve used many times with great satisfaction.

There ya having it.  No “mukbang” of Cajun tv dinners for you today!

P.S. I am a big fan, YUGE, of Savoie’s various smoked meats. Especially their andouille, tasso and venison.  The pic below of their facility is deceiving. They started selling out of the little roadside market that you see there, and kept adding on and on and on, so out of sight there is a very modern USDA inspecting processing plant.  Yo, Freddie!


Richards Cajun Foods Review

Out of the box, prior to heating

Richards Cajun Foods Review

Richard’s Plant

Richards Cajun Foods Review







Richards Cajun Foods Review

Richards Cajun Foods Review



IONutrition Meal Home Delivery Review


Ionutrition Meal SubscriptionUsed to be if you wanted to take advantage of a “home meal delivery” service, the companies that were available in the genre were focused on weight loss; or you could try and put together your own plan with a company like Schwans.

But lately we been presented with  a gaggle of choices from different companies, catering to all types of diets and tastes, as well as subscriptions that send portion control ingredients for you to cook at home, or fully prepared fresh “heat and eat” meals from companies like IONutrition. These guys are focused on fresh, organic, wholesome meals, and you can subscribe to a pure vegetable diet or one that includes animal protein.

They comped me some samples, and first off I went for the Butternut Portobello French Lentils with Salmon, which is ready to go after only two minutes in the microwave.

The ingredients are so straightforward it’s a breath of fresh air: Salmon, lentils, onion, carrots, mushroom, sweet potato, squash, eggplant
almond, tumeric, cumin, parsley, garlic, sea salt, filtered water.  What, seriously? None of those ingredients you can’t pronounce or have no idea what they are? Wow. Outstanding, folks.

Another significant difference with IoNutrition is they don’t have freezers chock-a-block full of frozen meals; they prepare your order right when you place it, and ship it out in a gently refrigerated box.

Watching calories, carbs or fats?  You’ll dig this nutritional information.   15 ounce serving = 537 calories, fat 2, carbs 55, fiber 16, protein 46. Meals are gluten and dairy free,organically sources elements. Eat them at home or amp up your daily office lunch.

The big question?  How was it?  Fantastic.  Seriously.  As good or better than anything I could fix at home, and possibly the best salmon I’ve  had in years. Additionally, the creative blending of spices and flavors in the sides is a real nice change.

If I haven’t given you enough reasons to try them out, know that IONutrition is a ’caused-based’ business and supports several charity partners.

One more reason?  How about a discount just for readers of Burgers, Dogs, Pizza, Oh My! For a limited time, get 15% off any meal plan by using the code “BURGERS.”  Get the full 411 on the company here.



IoNutrition Review

                       Salmon, Lentils, Portobello




Ionutrition Meal Home Delivery Review


Home Cookin’ – Chicken Fried Chicken – Banquet Frozen Dinner Review


The box says “A good source of protein”.  I wonder if they meant the box, instead of the contents?  A piece of chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn kernels, six minutes in the microwave, two minutes rest, and you have a really low cal (300) lunch or dinner. That’s the good news.  Unfortunately the carbs are pretty drastic, and the sodium is outrageous.

The potatoes and corn are about the same as fast food – think KFC.  The chicken?  Not so good.  As I have opined in many of these “I tried this so you don’t have to” pieces, I don’t understand why the food industry can’t get a crispy coating on a heat and eat product.  Some of the items with ‘heating trays’ come close, but most, like this, are a soggy miss.  Banquet has a brand new website showcasing their products.

This is from  ConAgra, who make some really good products.  Their “Marie Callender’s” line of frozen foods is  a step up from  Banquet.

Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken

In the box

Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken

Prior to Cooking


Banquet Chicken Fried Chicken



banquet frozen dinner review


Home Cookin ‘ – Kroger’s Beef Pot Roast Au Jus Review


I try a lot of these types of products, you can see other reviews by hitting the “Heat and Eat” tags.   I try these not so much as a quest to find the world’s best cuisine, but rather due to a personal fascination at how much this industry segment is evolving.  Some of my earliest memories of this ‘convenient’ type of food were the TV dinners that came in aluminum trays, had to bake forever, and tasted like crap.  And there was (it seems) always a patch of still frozen something, somewhere in the presentation.

I grabbed this one on impulse the other day, at my local Fred Meyer’s, part of the Kroger chain, which is the nation’s largest grocer.   I’ve noticed a mini trend that Fred Meyer’s is starting to have more Kroger labeled products.  Kroger relies on some of its own factories (it has 40 factories nationwide and sells products to other chains as well),  and also relies on outside manufactures that produce goods for private label.

This particular product was produced by RMH Foods, outside of Peoria, IL, which started as a butcher shop in 1937.   The company grew and evolved through family leadership, was sold to Smithfield in 2001, and subsequently acquired back by the founder’s family in 2009.

Kroger Beef Pot Roast au just

Package, prior to heating

The company’s primary prep method is is “Sous Vide” or “Cook-in-Bag”, and this Pot Roast entree is no exception.  The ingredients list is brief:  beef, dehydrated onion, carrot, and garlic, salt, pepper, dextrose (a sugar), parsley flakes, and caramel color.  Period.

The product can be microwaved in minutes, for a hot, nutritious, and tasty dinner.  I chose the conventional oven method of heating, and it took around 15 minutes. Quantity is 13 oz. or 4, 3 oz servings, according to the packaging.

I plated it with rice and spinach, and the results are pictured below.   This is one of the better products I have tried in the heat and eat category.  The meat was tender and nicely seasoned, very lean. The beef seems to have originated as a brisket.  Total cost per plate for the meal?  If you’re serving 4, with my menu or similar, it would come out to around $1.80 per person.  Terrific.

I’d buy it again, and recommend you try it.

Kroger Beef Pot Roast Au Jus

Plated Beef Pot Roast Au Jus


Home Cookin’ – Red Baron Pizza w/ Cheese Sticks


Red Baron Pizza and SidesI have home tested quite a few frozen pizzas, including other offerings by Red Baron.  Tonight’s choice, due to a sale price of 2 / $7, was Red Baron’s Classic Pepperoni packaged with a side of  Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

The image I found on line (left) for the package states “12 Cheese Sticks”, but my package included the disclaimer “11-13” cheese sticks.   I received 12 in my box, I guess packing limitations prevent the precise number being included in each pack.

The pizza and cheese sticks are wrapped separately of course, and have different baking instructions.  The pizza called for 400 degrees, and about 18 minutes; the instructions said to put the cheese sticks in the same oven when there was 11 minutes left on the timer (providing you were eating/serving both at the same time).

I looked deep inside the box to see if there was a packet of dipping sauce; most cheese sticks at fast casual restaurants come with a side of marinara, and I see no reason why for a couple pennies more Red Baron didn’t include same, but they choose not to.  I whipped up a quick marinara from some of our canned garden tomatoes, easily done while waiting for the pie and sticks to bake.

I’ve been lukewarm on Red Baron in the past, but the product seems to continually improve.  I liked the crust on this one, slightly crispy, and the toppings were ample.  At the sale price, it’s a ‘bargain’ in the world of frozen pizza.

My largest “complaint” about the cheese sticks, and it’s not directed at Red Baron specifically, but any company that tries to emulate frying food in the oven, is the cheese sticks aren’t adequately crispy.  That is, not reminiscent of the finish food gets when its fried.  This ‘complaint’ includes most every pseudo fried product I have tried, from fish filets to ravioli.   It’s a technique food science simply hasn’t figured out yet.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy, the beneficiary of the bulk of the cheese sticks, enjoyed them.  She liked the texture (stringiness) of the hot cheese.  And of course, my house-made marinara added to the experience!

Red Baron’s “Pizza and Sides” line is also available with “Wingz”, boneless fried chicken bits, I will get around to trying those in the future.

Do I recommend this product?  Yes, it’s as good as any in the ‘value-priced’ segment of frozen pizza, and the addition of the ‘side’ makes it pleasing for an after school or family snack.

Red Baron Pizza and Sides Review

Red Baron Classic Pepperoni Pizza Review


Home Cookin’ – Uncle Giuseppe’s Sausage & Pasta


Uncle Giuseppe's Two sidebars before getting to the meat of the matter:  I like Italian sausage (or ground beef) tomato sauce and pasta.   When I lived in Hong Kong, and I’d only get back to my apartment once a week or less, I’d make big batches and freeze in “me size” containers.   There’d always be something to eat when I rolled off a plane.

Second:  Mrs. Burgerdogboy makes some of the best home cooked Italian food in all the land.   So on the occasions we have these ‘heat and eat’ meals, they have a tough haul ahead of them to reach any level of decency.

We picked this product up at Grocery Outlet, which we’ve been hitting lately for two reasons:  inexpensive wine, and Harris Ranch ground beef.  The former for the Mrs., the latter for Burgerdogboy.

This was pretty inexpensive, compared to say – Stouffer’s or Marie Callendars.  So we thought we’ d try it.

A quick search of the interwebs shows this product is made under the auspices of Michael Angelo’s of Austin, TX, a large manufacturer of frozen entrees and sides.

50-60 minutes in a conventional oven (you know I always use one, even if nuking is permitted), and out comes the dish, looking not too appetizing straight from the fire.

Uncle Giuseppe's


But stir it up, and it doesn’t look so bad, plus you’ll love the ingredient list: tomato sauce, sausage, and pasta. Period.   Voila!

Uncle Giuseppe's

How was it?  Mrs. Burgerdogboy and I were both surprised.  There was plenty of flavor, and the texture was fine.  In either the sauce or the sausage, there was a hint of fennel, which I always appreciate.

Would I buy it again?  Yep.


Home Cookin’ – Marie Callender’s Scalloped Potatoes and Ham


Marie Callender's Scalloped Potato and Ham BakeAccording to the website, this is a “Multi-Serve Bake” product, as opposed to a “Complete Meal” or “One Dish Entree”.   1 hour in a conventional oven, or far less in your nuker (about 10 mins), and this product comes out ready-to-eat.  Personally, I think anything that contains a protein, starch, and dairy, would qualify as “a meal”, but apparently ConAgra sees it differently.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Box says there are three servings, and each one contains 43% of your daily sodium requirement.   But then, most pre-pared or canned foods contained high amounts of sodium.  Trust me on this, if you are under 30, start paying attention to that salt!

To us, the flavor was quite good, tho the diced ham chunks are a little small, and the remind me of the flavor of the dried beef that comes in jars.  Salty as well.  Now me, I like salt, even tho I shouldn’t have it, so overall, I found the dish to be a pleasurable experience, and would buy it again.

Marie Callender's Scalloped Potato and Ham Bake

Just Out of the Oven


Marie Callender's Scalloped Potato and Ham Bake

Plated Product



Home Test – Tyson Sausage Crumbles


Tyson Sausage CrumblesLeave it to me to start liking a product that apparently isn’t made anymore.  I had two packages in the freezer that I picked up at some time, Sausage Crumbles with Italian Seasoning, and Beef Crumbles.  Both ingredients are fully-cooked, and designed to be used as a quick heat and eat meal component, as a pizza topping, for tacos, lasagna, or meat sauce.

Searching the Tyson website for nutritional information, I don’t see these products listed – although they still have recipes posted using the products as ingredients, and still offer a product for “Breakfast Sausage Crumbles.”

Oh well.   I immediately liked them just from reading the ingredients.  Beef, water, and seasonings for one;  pork, water, and seasonings for the other.

Dislikes?  Upon opening the package, the meat was ‘frost encrusted’.  This may well be because the packages are well past their “use by” dates.  So me bad.

I thawed some of each in the microwave for a taste test prior to adding them to my (what would be) meat sauce.   I actually liked them both, and if you are a regular reader, you know how much I eschew pre-cooked sausage crumbles on pizzeria pies.   These might be an exception.

If Tyson were to keep making these (or are, and they just aren’t on the website),  my only suggestion would be that they produce them in different sizes, I’d like that, especially the pork variety.  The current iteration is a little smaller than a fingernail, and I’d like to see both a finer grind, and a coarser one.

They come in 10 oz packages, so you might need two for a family meal.

My recipe for quick meat sauce?


2 Packages Tyson Sausage Crumbles with Italian Season

1/2 Onion, diced

2 Cloves garlic, diced

1/2 t. oregon

1 t. fennel

1 jar your favorite spaghetti sauce

1 T olive oil

Saute the vegetables until clear.  Add the meat and heat until serving temperature.  Drain the meat and vegetables in a colander.  Add the sauce and heat.  Serve over pasta or on buns as sloppy joes.  Perfect.

(Ed. note:  I inquired of Tyson as to the availability of this product and they told me it had, in fact, been discontinued –  9.14.12)


Home Cookin’ Test – Newman’s Own Uncured Pepperoni Pizza

Newman's Own Uncured Pepperoni

Unbaked Pie

Seems to me (and I could be wrong, usually am) that Newman’s own product launches have picked up since the founder’s passing.  No matter, just an observation.  Today I took a look at their “All Natural Ingredient” “Uncured Pepperoni” “Thin and Crispy” pie.

At $6.99 at my local Safeway, for a 13.2 oz pizza, Newman’s Own comes in at a little over 53 cents an ounce, not that great a value for frozen pizzas.

The instructions said to bake directly on the shelf at 425 for 10-12 minutes, and I complied.  It’s a new oven, so the temp is accurate, and right at 10 minutes, it was a little on the done side.

The crust is definitely ‘thin and crispy’, but that’s my own personal preference, so that was fine with me.   The sauce and cheese were relatively mild, with a hint of heat.   The pepperoni cupped, which is generally an indication of a higher fat content, but as I am not an expert in these matters, “non-cupping” may well come from preservatives, I simply don’t know.

Did I like it?  You bet.  Would I pick it up again?  Yes, but I will look for sales events.

Newman's Own Uncured Pepperoni

Baked pie


Home Cookin’ – Louisa Toasted Ravioli


Louisa's Beef Toasted RavioliIf you ever visit St. Louis, MO, locals will encourage you to spend some time on the “Hill” one of the local ethnic neighborhoods that remains relatively intact and true to its roots.   In the early days, the “Hill“, so named because it is the highest point in St. Louis, was home to clay mines, and immigrant Italians settled in the area in the 1890s – mostly as workers in the mines.

Shops and restaurants opened to cater to the Italians, and the “Hill” remains an oasis of Italian focused eateries to this day.

Specific to the area is one popular dish, which may have originated there – toasted ravioli.  Ravioli pasta is stuffed with meat or cheese, and deep fried until crispy.

Louisa Foods, of St. Louis, has elevated the status of toasted ravioli, by making it available as a frozen “heat and eat” dish available to the home consumer.

The people of Louisa have mastered the creation of a crispy ‘eat at home’ product that actually DOES crisp up in the oven.    When you think about all the frozen products you have tried for the home, that promise ‘crispness’, you will be aware of what a great feat Louisa has achieved.

The pillows of pasta are stuffed with seasoned minced beef, and come out of the oven piping hot and crispy in the right places, chewy in the center, just as you would find in a local St. Louis eatery.  I AM impressed!

Mrs. Burgerdogboy heated some as part of an appetizer dinner last nite, and served them with a side of marinara and shaved Parmesan (not included), and the package easily serves 4-6 on an appetizer basis, and for the 2 of us, would have been more than enough for a meal, all by their lonesome.

I always enjoy partaking in regional specialties, and when you find manufacturers that are successfully able to take a regional dish and make it available to the world, well, that’s a treat.

Congratulations Louisa, on a fine product.

I think I found these at our local Wal Mart.  I was not able to find a website for the company, but they have a Facebook page.  Call them to ask about availability in your area:  314-868-3000.

Louisa's Beef Stuffed Toasted Ravioli


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