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.


Jimmy Dean Frozen foods

grilled-steajimmyI’m once again in a funk about cooking, so I’m back at eating frozen meals from time to time.  Grocery Outlet is now carrying the Jimmy Dean Delights brand, which I hadn’t seen before.  It’s pretty much just like every other frozen food brand – forgettable.

I had their pulled pork sandwiches in chipotle bbq sauce. An acceptable snack for $1.50, but with too much bread to meat ratio. The pork is pretty much a paste (not chunks as in the promotional photo), and the sauce tastes like your generic tangy/sweet bbq sauce.

My vegetarian oldest was OK with the three cheese pasta bowl, but she’s not that demanding.  The grilled steak bowl was edible but unmemorable.  The photos on the boxes definitely look better than the real thing tastes.


White Stilton with Mango & Ginger

stiltongingerStilton is probably my favorite blue cheese, and I’ve liked other versions of white stilton with fruits.  This one, however, is plain amazing.  I was afraid that the ginger would be too strong, specially against what is, when devoid of its mold, a rather subtle cheese, but it’s perfectly caramelized into barely spicy sweetness.  This cheese is just delicious, dessert with a capital “D”.  Best of all, it’s available right now at the Grocery Outlet in San Leandro for only $3 or so for the 5oz package.

It’s the real Clawson stilton, imported from England, and it has an expiration of July 2014.  As with other soft cheeses, it’s creamier as it warms up in room temperature.  This one is a bit chalky when cold.


Three Sausages: Gilbert’s, Open Nature & Aidell’s

I’ve been kind of lazy about making dinner lately, and what is easier and tastier than grilling some hot dogs or sausages?  Grocery Outlet, meanwhile, has had an explosion of sausage choices this week so we were able to try a few new ones.

open-nature-sausage-pork-171009The winner of this batch was Open Nature Smoked Uncured Sausages. This is actually the Safeway brand of sausages.  These are 100% pork sausages. They are pretty big, with four sausages in the 12 oz package, and very tasty.  That’s probably because they are full of fat, 23 grams for one of these vs. 15 grams for one of the Gilbert sausages below (which are 1/2 oz smaller).  Still, if you’re going for flavor, you can’t go wrong with these sausages.  Mike rated them an 8.5.

gilbertsGilbert’s Craft Sausages is a very new company (started in 2010) offering “gourmet” uncured beef sausages.  I got the beef & cheddar and we thought it was pretty good.  Mike would rate it a 6.5.  Camila, my 9 yo, liked it – and she can be picky.  It had a nice flavor, not very overwhelming, and was pretty juicy.  I think I might enjoy it more without the cheddar.

One convenient thing about Gilbert’s sausages is that they are individually wrapped.  The bad thing is that they don’t have the type/expiration date printed on the plastic, so I still have to keep the carton in the fridge to remember what they are.  A 10 oz package of 4 sausages was, I think, $3 at Grocery Outlet.

aidellsFinally, one of my kids like chicken sausages and we often buy the Aidells kind.  There were none at Grocery Outlet, buy they had Awesome Apple uncured chicken hot dogs.  The 10 oz package has 5.  Both kids really liked them and they seem marginally healthier, with 7 grams of fat each.  But one kid had to eat two to get full, and the other 3 .  Of course, the kids gave them a “10”.  My oldest says she prefers these to the sausages as they are thinner and easier to eat, plus they look smaller.  Less messy too.

One good thing about these chicken apple hot dogs is that they don’t have pork casings.  Aidells chicken sausages don’t either, but other manufacturers do.  If you are specifically avoiding eating pork products (as my daughter is), this matters.


Hormel Natural Choice Apple Gouda Chicken Sausages – Review

AppleGoudaChickenSausage-largeI got these at Grocery Outlet yesterday.  They were only 50-cents, or so, as today was the expiration day.  I was going to use them in quesadillas, but we ended up eating them whole.

All in all, they were good, but so sweet that none of us wanted to have a second sausage (and at 3 oz, they aren’t that big).  My youngest particularly enjoyed how juicy it was.  The cheese, indeed, seems to be there more to provide juiciness than flavor.

They are actually made from “natural” ingredients: chicken, Gouda cheese, dried apples, brown sugar, vinegar, salt, paprika and spices.  They are in pork casings.

I don’t know that I’d buy again, unless they were on sale at 50-cents.


Rougette Grill Meister Grilling Cheese – Product Review

GRILLMEISTER-PACKAGE I found this packaged cheese at Grocery Outlet yesterday, and I went back today to pick up four more packages. My haste was due to the fact that at 50-cents a package (regular retails is $5!), they will disappear soon, plus they expired on Dec. 16th – two days ago.  I don’t know for how much longer it’ll stay good, but surely a few more days.

This soft cheese is made in Germany, and is specifically made to be heated before serving.  It doesn’t have a crust, per se, though the outer layer becomes harder, while protecting a semi-melted middle.  It’s very good.  While officially a camembert, it reminded me more of a brie, though it’s milder and less bitter than most of those. It had a slightly nutty flavor, which I liked.

It was also very easy to prepare. You can either put it on the grill or on a lightly oiled pan on the stove. Cook for six minutes, flipping from time to time.  That’s it.  The 3.2 oz portion is definitely dainty, and I wouldn’t buy it at its regular $25-lb price, but for $5-lb, it’s well worth it, even if I have to hurry and eat it all this week 🙂


Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet

CB_bloodorg_lgI have a pretty nasty cold, so I only want to eat things which are smooth going down my throat and so flavorful that I can taste them despite my stuffed nose.  Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet fit the bill perfectly.

Of course, I can’t tell you how someone that has their 5 senses would experience it, but to me it was delicious.  The sorbet had a strong orange flavor, with some welcome bitter undertones.  It was very creamy and smooth.

They have these at Grocery Outlet here in San Leandro for $2 now, and I think I’ll stock up.


Soul Indian Wraps – Review

soul_butter_chkn_3dIf you’re tired of having the same old frozen burrito for lunch, Soul’s Indian wraps provide a reasonable alternative.  They have four flavors, butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, chicken tikka masala and vegetable curry.  I’ve tasted the three chicken ones, and I can’t say I could really distinguish their flavor. They all tasted like mildly spicy generic chicken curries, acceptable but not exciting. Of the four choices, the tikka masala has slightly less calories/fat (370 c/11 g. fat) than the others, so that may be your best choice.  The vegetable curry, which I haven’t tried, has the greatest fat content.

The wraps were about $1.50 at Grocery Outlet and they cook in the microwave in about 3 minutes (you have to turn it half way).


Not really ice cream reviews: Gelateria Italiana vs. Tempt

First of all, let me start by saying that I feel like a complete jerk for blogging about ice cream after reading this article about the torturous conditions in which California inmates find themselves, and hearing from a friend of mine who is a prison lawyer, that water was being rationed in California women’s prisons during the heat wave we had last week.

Be that as it may, not blogging about ice cream won’t change any of that, so here it goes.  These are two new, for me, brands of ice-cream-like products that I found at Grocery Outlet, here in San Leandro.

Gelateria Italiana

I tried both their Hazelnut & Chocolate and Pistachio flavors.  The Hazelnut & chocolate one was divine.  It tasted exactly like you would expect it to taste, but it was lighter that your regular gelato.  The Pistachio was pretty good as well, but less exciting because, after all, pistachio ice cream gets boring after a whole.

The ice cream comes all the way from Italy and I would fully recommend it but for its ingredients.  The first two ingredients are what you’d expect: milk and sugar (I guess no cream in gelato), but we then encounter “glucose syrup” – which is basically like corn syrup, but not necessarily from corn – and then “refined vegetable oil”.  Say what?  What is oil doing in my ice cream? I’ve made ice cream many times and gelato a few, but never, never have I heard of using oil.  I might have thought the oil was for cooking the hazelnuts, but it comes before “roasted hazelnut paste” as an ingredient, which means there is more of it than hazelnuts.

The gelato came in a 30 oz tub (so not quite a quart) and cost about $3 at GO.

temptTempt

What tempted me to try Tempt Coffee Biscotti “frozen dessert” ($2 for a pint at GO) was that it’s main ingredient: hemp milk.  Sure, I knew there would be nothing “naughty” in the ice cream, but I like the idea of supporting the hemp industry.  Alas, the “ice cream” was very disappointing.  The texture is nice enough, quite creamy, but the ice cream’s flavor is very mild and somewhat off putting.  According to my daughter, the after taste is better than the taste, however.  Tempt could probably improve this flavor, at least, by using more coffee so the coffee flavor is stronger, but they should also forgo the soggy, flavorless, gluten-free biscotti.

Tempt uses mostly organic ingredients, chief among them rice, but it also includes oil in its formula.  In all, it’s probably not a terrible choice for vegans, but others will probably want to avoid it.