Refrigerated Meal Review: Cedarlane Cheese Tortellini with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I had not heard of Cedarlane before I found this refrigerated Cheese Tortellini meal at Grocery Outlet. It turns out that Cedarlane is a 40-year old company that sells frozen and refrigerated food. I couldn’t find this exact item in their website, but they do show several intriguing vegan meals I’ll try to find (they apparently sell this brand at Lucky Supermarkets).

This tray meal of tortellini in tomato sauce was basic but tasty. I liked how soft the tortellini were. There are three servings in this meal, but I can’t imagine that it would satisfy more than one as a full meal.

It was $5 at Grocery Outlet, so I imagine it costs significantly more at the supermarket. At $5 is a good meal, I’m not sure I’d pay any more than that.


Refrigerated Meal Review: Heat.Eat.Done Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta

Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta Review

Last week I found this refrigerated tray meal for Chicken Marsala with Penne Pasta at Grocery Outlet, and decided to give it a try. I love chicken marsala. At $5 for what is really a portion for one person (unless you are eating something else), it’s not exactly cheap for a pre-made, refrigerated meal, specially when bought at a bargain store, but I figured it was worth a try. Unfortunately, that was all that it was worth.

The chicken in the dish was incredibly dry. Now, this is very unusual for microwavable meals, but somehow Heat.Eat.Done managed it. The sauce also didn’t actually taste of Marsala wine – it lacked the sweetness of the wine -, and it was too liquidy and tasteless. I would not buy it again.


Barilla Veggie Pasta Review

Like pretty much everyone in the whole world, my kids love pasta. Alas, I wish it was more nutritious – so whenever I can find some pasta that seems better, I give it a try.

Barilla veggie pasta is made with zucchini and spinach pure and supposedly gives you a full serving of veggies. However, it doesn’t have any more fiber than regular pasta – perhaps because it’s not made with whole wheat. It does have some vitamin A, though I think it may be better to get this by adding some shredded carrots to the pasta sauce you’re using (something which I just thought of, so never tried – but will now). Still, substituting this pasta for regular pasta is a painless way to get a bit more nutrition.

There are some minuses, however. Now that Barilla has abandoned its anti-gay practices, the main one is the price. It can cost about twice as much as bargain regular spaghetti brands, and it costs 25% more than the regular Barilla pasta. However, it’s still far cheaper than other enhanced pasta brands. It’s sold in a 12 oz package, which is perfect for a four-person family, but may be too little for larger families.

In all, I’ll probably buy it, particularly when it’s on sale, though I’d like to try the more nutritious brands as well.



Belgian Waffles

One of the delights of downtown Brussels is their waffle stores.  Here, you can eat freshly made waffles with a variety of toppings.  A big variety.  The ones I tried were delicious but a pain in the but to eat on the go, specially as the plastic forks provided were too weak to easily cut the thick waffles.  The flavors were great, however.  I might want to recreate this at home.


Bottom Round is Not the Best Idea for Milanesas

I usually use thinly cut top round to make milanesas.  While the cut has an annoying fat vein in the middle, it’s very tender, the version sold by Safeway is very thin and it just works great for milanesas.

This week, however, Safeway had thinly cut bottom round at half the price as top round – so I figured that I would give it a chance and see how it worked.  The answer is that it will do in a pinch, but it’s definitely inferior to top round.

First, the “thin” bottom round steaks sold by Safeway were two to three times thicker than the top round ones.  Bottom round is a very tough cut of meat, so I beat the hell out of the meat to tenderize it.  It worked quite well, though I ended up with a blister on the side of my finger.  A larger problem was that as the cut was thicker, so were the pieces of fat/gristle in the middle of the steaks.  There weren’t too many and I try to cut them, but it made it harder to eat the milanesas in sandwiches (it’s not a big deal if you’re using fork and knife).    I also don’t think the flavor was as tasty as the top round, but the issue might also have been the olive oil I was using.

All in all, I’d use bottom round again under similar circumstances, but at full price, I definitely prefer top round.


Candy Club Subscription Review: A half-sour experience

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Candy Club: Up to 3 lbs old-fashioned candies, $34/month
Promo: fbtreatyourself20 for $20 off your first box
I paid: $14 with promo, box value: $
To unsubscribe: call 888-598-5995, quick & easy

The Candy Club is a monthly subscription that sends you 2 to 3 pounds of old fashioned candies every month. Boxes come with 3 plastic jars of lose candy and individually wrapped candies filling up the rest of the box. The box is also supposed to include a “surprise confection”, generally a wrapped cookie or candy bar, but it was missing from my box. I didn’t notice until now, which makes me sad as it would probably have been my favorite item in the box. The candy containers look pretty cool, but they are actually made of thin, flexible plastic – so they are not really reusable.

This boxed is supposed to have a retail value of $60. To me, that seems impossible. I came up with a $16 value for this box, using online prices. Now, those values are calculated based on the purchase of much larger quantities, but even at regular candy stores, lose candy goes for $8-$12 a lb. I got 2 1/2 lbs of candy so, at the most, this box is worth $30. It was a deal at the $14 price I paid, but not much of one at the $34 cost of subsequent boxes. Fortunately, cancelling was easy. I just called the number and was unsubscribed without

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Sour Power Candy Belts in Wild Cherry, 9 oz, $2.5

These were sour, really sour. I had trouble eating even the tiny piece I tried. My children, however, enjoyed them.


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Gimbal’s Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans, 14 oz, $8.5

I also found these to be incredibly sour, though quite tasty after you were done with that. Nobody else in my family found them sour, however, showing their taste buds are gone. Enjoyable but not better than regular Jelly Belly’s.

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IMG_0178 Gimbal’s Red Licorice Scottie Dogs, 10 oz, $5

I didn’t realize these were made of licorice until I just checked what they were call to write about them. You would have fooled me, they don’t taste at all like licorice. That’s a good thing as I hate licorice. That said, these didn’t taste of much anything. Everyone at my house agreed these were not worth the calories.


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Sweet’s Cotton Candy Salt Water Taffy, ~7 oz, $2.5

These were everyone’s favorites. Really delicious taffy that really tasted like cotton candy. I may very well buy some more of these in the future.

Check out my other subscription box reviews.


OrangeGlad Sweet Box Subscription Review – March 2015

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OrangeGlad, sweets from artisan bakeries, $22/month
Promo: LACOOKIES15 for 40% off or SPRING30 for 30% off

OrangeGlad is a subscription box that sends you goodies from bakeries around the country. It’s a great concept but it’s pretty expensive at $22 a month, in particular because they send very few treats. This box had a value of approximately $15. They do have coupons, though, and if you catch a good one and use it on a 6 month subscription, you can bring your costs to the low teens. I got this box with a $15 off coupon, so I only paid $7. It was worth it for that price.

Apparently the box used to have packaged much more nicely. It’s pretty utilitarian now. This is what it had:

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Itty Bites from OrangeGlad

Chocolate Almond Macaroon from Smackaroons

Kiss Me I’m Irish Cake Pop by Sweet E’s Bake Shop

Russian Tea Cakes from Lark’s Fine Foods

San Juan Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar by Seattle Chocolates

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Itty Bites from OrangeGlad, bag of 10, est value $5

These are cute and tiny little shortbread cookies. I’m estimating their value because they are not currently for sale at OrangeGlad. Unlike regular shortbread these were pretty short and came with instructions to eat right away (as if I wouldn’t). We all thought they were delicious.

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Chocolate Almond Macaroon from Smackaroons, 1 macaroon, value $1.25

This was your run of the mill macaroon. Delicious like macaroons are. I did find it a little dry, however, which is to be expected.

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Kiss Me I’m Irish Cake Pop in red velvet by Sweet E’s Bake Shop, value $3.75

I love red velvet cake and this cake pop was very good – but also pretty generic as far as red velvet cake goes.

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Russian Tea Cakes from Lark’s Fine Foods, 3 cookies, est. value $1.15

I’m a fan of Russian tea cakes and these were delicious – though a bit on the dry side.

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San Juan Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar by Seattle Chocolates, value $3.5

This was probably my favorite item in the box. Oh so good. Unfortunately I left it out and my dog ate most of it. But I’ll keep an eye for these bars ’cause they are yummy.

Unsubscribing from OrangeGlad was quick and easy, just took an e-mail.


Trader Joe’s Frozen Foods

We did a major Trader Joe’s shopping trip yesterday, and I got quite a lot of frozen items to try. I haven’t been into cooking for months now, and I don’t see the muse hitting me any time soon. So frozen food it is.  I thought I’d share my opinions of what I’ve gotten.  I’ll be adding them here as they go.

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Mushroom & Black Truffle Flatbread with Mozarella Cheese

This had a real truffle flavor.  If you like truffles, this is the flatbread for you.  I do, so I’ll be buying more. I think it was $3.

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Vegetable Pad Thai

Mika complained that it was spicy and didn’t taste like pad-thai, but she did eat it.


Love with Food review – February 2015

Love with Food, $12/$20 a month snack subscription ($29 for gluten-free box)
Promo: 50% off first box by using my link, GFLS = 50% off gluten free box, Groupon for deluxe box ($10 for 1 month/$26 for 3 months)
I paid: $2 with expired promo

As part of my general addiction to subscription boxes, I’ve ventured into the realm of subscription snack boxes with its most heavily promoted box: Love with Food. This box features a variety of not-too-bad-for-you snacks, both from niche and heavily distributed brands. The monthly subscription is $12, though you can get your first box for a discount by using my referral link (or any other referral link you find).

The snacks were all good, and I definitely enjoyed them at the $2. However, the total cost of the snacks included in the box came up to $7 – so I’d have been bummed if I’d paid full price for the box. Needless to say, I unsubscribed, which was a very quick and easy process, though it involved filling out a survey but that was actually a plus, as it gave me the opportunity to tell them why I was cancelling.

This is what I got in my box:

maccheesebitesSnikiddy Snacks Mac N’ Cheese Puffs, 1 .75 oz package (65 cents)

My 12-year old really liked these mac n’ cheese puffs. To me they tasted somewhat citric and not at all cheesy. She felt they tasted like mac & cheese (which I, personally, avoid). Other pluses, non-GMO and gluten free. The main ingredients are corn, rice flower, oil, whey, cheddar cheese and buttermilk. The package had 90 calories. Not a bad snack.

Made in USA

kettlechipsBoulder Canyon Olive Oil Totally Natural Kettle Chips, 1.5 oz ($1.50)

These are pretty good, run-of-the-mill kettle chips. I like that they contain only three ingredients: potatoes, olive oil and salt. And I like that they are not too greasy and not too hard. I think they need more salt, however. They mostly taste like plain chips, with the olive oil only giving them a hint of bitterness. I did quickly finish the whole package (220 calories), but I was pretty much full afterwards. I’d buy them. They are made in the USA and they are available at some supermarkets.

energybar-peanutbuttanhoney-webHoney Stinger Peanut Butter’n Honey Energy Bar, 1.75 oz bar, ($2)

This was a pretty tasty bar.  I can’t say that it was particularly delicious, and I did find it too sweet, but I enjoyed it.

Made in USA

lemonwaferDolcetto Petites Lemon Wafer Bites, .7 oz (85 cents)

These lemon wafers are delicious. They are crispy wafers, filled with a sweet, lemon-flavored creamy filling, not too unlike those in lemon cookies. They are full of flavor, and much lighter than a cookie. The packages are tiny, but at 100-calories they should satisfy your need for a bit of sugar. They seem to be made in Indonesia, and they have sugar rather than corn syrup.

Dilettante Toffee Crunch Truffle Cremes No. 39, 2 candies (70 cents)

These are nicely sized (perhaps even a little too big for a bite), and quite tasty – but I found them to be too smooth for my taste – I prefer more crunch. Definitely a nice treat, though. Each candy has 55 calories and they are made in the USA

mombanaMombana Traditional Hot Chocolate, 1 envelope (70 cents)

I still haven’t used it.

Enough for 1 8-oz cup. Made in the USA.

divinechocDivine Milk Chocolate Mini Pieces, 2 5 gram pieces (50 cents)

Nice, tasty chocolate.  Not exceptional, but a nice little treat.  They sell this occasionally at Grocery Outlet.

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, 2 sample envelopes (no value)

Available at Walmart for less than $3 for a 1 lb jar.  The samples are tiny and I can’t imagine I can really try them, but maybe I’ll sprinkle them on something.


Lightlife Crispy Gold’n Chik’n Nuggets Review

My 12-yo vegetarian child has been pretty reluctant to try vegetarian frozen entrees. She’s particularly offended by fake meats.  She’s a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and she doesn’t see the point in eating fake animals.  But she probably was tired of eating pasta, so she gave this entree a try.  She was underwhelmed.  She said the chik’n nuggets tasted mostly of potato, but they lacked flavor altogether. They were edible but not enjoyable. She wouldn’t have them again, but she’d eat them if there was nothing else around.