Posts Tagged ‘Chicken’

Kid Cuisine Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla

No Comments » Written on August 10th, 2011 by
Categories: Food
Tags: , , , ,

Product: Kid Cuisine Chicken Quesadilla
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet
Price: $1.25 cents per meal (Or $1.00 when they’re on sale at Safeway.)

Parents are always looking for ways to squeeze a little more time out of their days while feeding their kids something quick, easy, and hopefully palatable. Kids Cuisine products have been around since forever as an attempt to fill the cheap, easy, and kid friendly television dinner bracket. This market segment seems to have always been dominated by two schools of thought – mom targeted branding which focuses on “healthy eating” (though based on the nutrient content of some of those products you’re basically overpaying for a dry tasting Lean Pocket) or kids targeted marketing which use cartoons to sell their products because cartoons sell products to children. Even the majority of food products with cartoons on them bear plenty of information on the box about how nutritious and fortified they are, but that’s just to aid them into the shopping basket once the kid has been hooked. It just helps justify buying a sugary cereal, TV dinner, or fortified sweetened beverage.

Cartoons Cartoons Everywhere. Cartoons Cartoosn in my Chicken Quesadilla with Corn and Pudding.

Kids Cuisine is no different from any other kid oriented marketing campaign. They certainly play up their nutritional facts more than most General Mills or Kelloggs sugar-cereals but that doesn’t make it supremely healthy. Especially when the package comes with it’s own thing of sprinkles and pudding. One of the nicer things about most TV dinners, even a cartoon advertised kids oriented TV dinner, is the sense of portion size. TV dinners really do reign in what a proper portion size is SUPPOSED to look like, instead of letting me (a notoriously poor eater) to see what I’m supposed to be eating to reach my targeted Calories per Meal. Now that doesn’t really fix the fact that this is a microwaved dinner and it’s not the most appealing thing for a parent to feed a kid.

I’m not even going to bother uploading the frozen photo. It looks exactly the same, minus the fiesta sprinkles.

Well I’m here to tell you that, I, as a non-kid or parent, would willingly eat the quesadilla or feed it to someone else’s kid. (Though not on a regular basis, and I do hate my own gastro-intestinal system and all children.) Through some microwave magic, it comes out nice and gooey without being soggy. The tortilla isn’t terrible thought it does look like it has metastasized form of melanoma all over it. The bubbles just don’t look natural, but that’s fine since the whole thing tastes like a generic Taco Bell quesadilla. Even the texture is pretty gosh-darned close.

The rest of the meal varies from barely passable to downright horrible. I couldn’t figure out why Kid Cuisine insisted on putting pudding in the tray to be microwaved with the meal. It’s not a particularly good pudding (though if you eat them frozen they taste remarkably like a Fudgesicle) to begin with. That’s just a given. Pudding contains dairy and dairy just isn’t meant to be frozen unless it’s loaded with tons of fat and slow churned. It’s definitely not intended to be frozen, reheated and covered with “fiesta sprinkles.” (I need to cover the fiesta sprinkles in just a second). It’s just not natural and it just comes off tasting like wierd hot chocolate goo. Mixing the pudding before serving helps by helping even out any hot spots but it’s still not great pudding. It is, however, passible if you’re hungry.

The Fiesta Sprinkles (what the hell are fiesta sprinkles anyways?) are a whole different story. While the pudding is less than good but not quite bad, the fiesta sprinkles are basically crap and shouldn’t come anywhere near your TV dinner. Don’t be like me and stick it on your pudding so it can mix and melt and contaminate everything with their oversweet yet chalky flavor. It’s like someone took a black board eraser, compressed the dust with some sugar, added food color, and called it a new and exciting garnish. It’s almost the worst part of the meal, but not quite.

If you love your children you won’t put these on their pudding.

My biggest complaint about this particular version of the Kids Cuisine line is the fact that this dish will single handedly ruin all vegetables and encourage them to eat mediocre sprinkles. I don’t care if your kids liked corn before this, having a decent quesadilla, a mediocre pudding, and some crap sprinkles up against steamed feed corn is going to kill all vegetables for them. Flat out. I really don’t understand how they managed to ruin steamed veggies but they did. It’s does such a bad job at being tasty steamed corn, I would have accused them of mixing up the corn shaped packing peanuts with their actual corn, except this stuff is far more rubbery and bitter than packing peanuts ever dreamed about being.The corn will seriously ruin vegetables for your kids and there’s just no good reason for it. I mean, bulk packed frozen veggies are pretty dang good, and I know Green Giant makes fantastic veggie steamer packs. If you want your kids to eat healthy you need to make sure that the healthiest portion of their dish is at least passable.

Now you might be saying “Geeze Ben, going a little overboard with the corn,” or wondering “How is it possible to screw up microwavable corn?” My reply would simply be that I don’t have a good solid answer and the ingredients list doesn’t reveal any secrets. I do, however, have a few hypotheses which goes along the lines of “it was the cheapest corn they could find in the warehouse” or someone forgot to label it as “not fit for human consumption.” If you’ve ever seen the independent film “King Corn” you would understand that the majority of America’s favorite grain is actually grown to produce other products, like corn syrup, and beef. The majority of that corn is actually bland, unpalatable and 100% unlike the sweet juicy stuff you get at your summer barbecue. Just do your yourself and kids a favor and throw the corn away. Don’t even let them eat it. Seriously. Cut that portion of the tray off and act like it was never there.

Mmmm. Bitter, rubbery and unnaturally colored cornnnnnn.

The main portion of the Kid Cuisine is still worth buying the whole meal over if you need to feed a kid that doesn’t belong to you without going to the local fast food joint or whipping up a proper meal. It’s probably not something a parent should consider feeding their rugrat on a regular basis simply because the veggies aren’t exactly great, and because I wouldn’t recommend encouraging your kids to eat all of their meals out of a box branded by a penguin and a polar bear. You just can’t trust them penguins.

Mom Made Foods Chicken Munchies: No My Mother Did Not Make These

No Comments » Written on July 18th, 2011 by
Categories: Food
Tags: , , , ,

Product: Mom Made Foods: Chicken Munchie
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (Lakewood)
Price: $1.99

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a product intended for mothers, although our last mother-related product is targeted towards expecting mothers instead of mothers with kids who are capable of cramming food into their faces. Or maybe this product is targeted towards adult children, man babies, or bachelors looking to get that homemade flavor. All of those market segments should be completely capable of operating a microwave/toaster oven and piling a Hot Pocket-like food product in their food hole. Anyway, I’m not really a mom or a parent of any kind so I’m not particularly interested in that aspect of the product. Instead I want to know how this product appeals to the silent but powerful “adult child, man baby, and bachelor” demographic.

Since we (me?) are not interested in its appeal to children, let’s talk about its adult appeal. The packaging shows a good-sized golden brown turnover loaded with chicken, rice and cheese. It’s really tasty to look at but as we all know, food products never look like the packaging. Which is fine. I’m used to freezer food looking like dog barf. I even chastised Freezer Burns for razzing a product based on its packaging. To be honest, I expect very little from food packaging photography. It’s a photograph of a product made by professional cooks in a gourmet test kitchen with the expressed purpose of being pretty.  What I do expect is for the product in the photo to contain the same amount of ingredients as whatever is in what I purchased. I don’t care if they use photography magic as long as everything I’m about to buy is in the photo in the appropriate quantities. Additives like motor oil, marbles and hair spray do not bother me even though I’m a “food photography purist” simply because I understand the challenges of working in a production environment on a deadline for massive paychecks.

Now that I have that rant out of the way, the actual product looks nothing like the box. Instead of a meal-sized calzone loaded with gooey chicken and beans, you get a snack-sized rectangle. This thing is genuinely small, but I should have realized it would be when the box contents said “5 oz” and each serving was only 220 calories (upon further review, a chicken Hot Pocket with Broccoli Cheddar has 290 Calories). It was a little disappointing to say the least, but hey, since there are two, I can review both recommended food prep techniques!

Microwave Radiation is the Best Radiation

Most folks who are going to eat a toaster pastry loaded with savory filling are going to turn to the microwave for some near instant gratification. It’s how lazy people don’t starve and why “lunch hours” are only thirty-minutes long. (If I was a boss, I would rename it the “Lunch Half Hour,” or the “lunchtime microwave scramble time extravaganza.”) Anyways, the box recommends that these should be microwaved for a minute to a minute and a half so that’s what I did. (I ignored the “toast for a crispier crust” statement since the result wouldn’t be any better than cooking this guy in the toaster oven).

After my excruciatingly long minute was up I pulled my two and a half inch square of whole wheat and chicken filling out of the oven, which for some reason or another reached a temperature of 5,742,623 degrees Fahrenheit in the microwave. After allowing it to cool for a few minutes I sat down and took a big old man baby bite out of my pastry and found that it was simultaneously mealy, grainy, and dry. The filling wasn’t beany, cheesy or tasty. I’d actually go out on a limb and say it was bland, dry, and hardly worth  my time. The crust, like most microwaved crusts was basically rubbery and mealy crap. Perhaps all of the moisture in the filling ended up in the crust leaving a dessert like center surrounded by a swampy exterior. I’d highly recommend not microwaving these.

Toasty The Toaster Oven

I generally ignore toaster oven instructions because I’ve had horrible luck with them. Instead I cook in my ovens using the old eyeball method, thermometer method, and finger method simply because they’re the most reliable methods I’ve found to date. I mean the instructions are fine for getting in the ball park but I can usually find a more optimal cooking temperature and time for most products. Today I set the pastry up for 325 and watched it for ~ 20 minutes before yanking it out. The crust took on a nice and healthy toasting which was a pretty good indicator to pull my “munchie” out of the oven. I’m sure it would have browned a little more if I left it in the oven a little longer, but the microwaved guy left me hungry and the 20 minute wait was getting to be unbearable.

The crust had a decent break in my mouth but it was still mealy. This is probably due to frozen whole whole wheat and its inability to reheat well. I found the filling to be much moister but it was still bland. The beans tasted like rice, the rice tasted like rice, the chicken tasted like rice. It was all very homogeneous tasting with no flavor variation between the various chunks. I would also like to point out that there was very little filling in the pastry. There’s definitely a high breading to filling ratio with the bread overwhelming the filling with every bite. If I wanted toast with goo on it, I’d have gotten myself some toast and slathered it in cheese.

At $1.99, these are not an adequate replacement for the bachelor’s staple of Hot Pockets and beer. They’re really not much healthier than Hot Pockets and beer either. At least not my favorite, Chicken with Broccoli and Cheddar which weighs in at 290 calories. If you eat two of these guys in attempt to feel more full you’ll actually do much worse than a proper Hot Pocket in EVERY department. But then again, I’m the kind of person who is typically satisfied with one Hot Pocket (all of this sodium is going to kill me one of these days).

If you see these in your local grocery, or even your outlet store, I would pass on them. They’re not particularly filling, nor are they particularly tasty. Heck, they’re not even that healthy unless you believe being organic makes up for containing 22% of your daily saturated fat intake per microscopic square. I hate to say it but these just aren’t improvement over the status quo.

Don’t believe me? Check out a variety pack for yourself.

 

Smart Chicken Hot Italian Sausage

No Comments » Written on February 1st, 2011 by
Categories: Food
Tags: , , , , ,

Product: Smart Chicken Hot Italian Sausage
Purchased at: Grocery Outlet (Lakewood)
Price: $1.99 for five 4 oz. sausages

Marisa’s Take: When I graduated college, I got to sit in a huge crowd of starry-eyed young adults just like myself. We heard inspirational speeches from past graduates and business owners and chatted amongst ourselves about our aspirational plans for the future (for the story’s sake, forget anything about our current unemployment rates). I even got to shake hands with the college president.

Unfortunately, when these chickens graduate, they don’t get degrees – they become cutlets and ground chicken and sausages.  Though in this economy, is that preferable to tackling post-college employment prospects?

“Smart Chicken” uses chicken that are certified organic, certified humanely raised and handled, eat a trademarked vegetarian diet, pesticide/herbicide/hormone/antibiotic free and maybe even a certification that doesn’t even exist yet. It kind of seems like a shame to eat them. Then again, I gotta have some standards.

I admit, some of my eating habits mirror that of a 20s-something bachelor. I’ll drink milk from the carton when no one’s looking, I’ll tackle a steak the size of my face or bust into a six egg omelette (one day I’ll conquer a twelve egg). I was kind of disappointed that unlike Trader Joe’s or Aidell’s brand chicken sausages, these are not precooked. I can’t just take one out of the package, zap it in the microwave and eat it while watching a action movie. Not that a proper young lady like myself would do that.

chicken sausage cookedWhat’s nice is that the ingredient list is pretty straightforward and simple: chicken, hot Italian seasoning (black pepper, fennel, red pepper, anise, paprika, sugar, dehydrated garlic), salt, vinegar, natural flavoring, in a natural pork casing. I’d definitely stick with these over a “normal” hot dog. In addition to hot Italian chicken sausage, Smart Chicken also offers a sweet Italian version and a bratwurst. Now I want some sauerkraut.

And of course the most important thing – taste. I enjoy spicy foods and these did not disappoint. They definitely brought a bit of a tingle to my mouth. The whole fennel seeds dispersed throughout the link brought a nice herb-y crunch paired with the heat.

Fun video: Here’s a wonderfully crude Soviet era TV advertisement for ground chicken from the late 1980s – while the title mentions “Vegetarian Nightmare”, some meat eaters might feel uncomfortable as well.

Buy Smart Chicken Hot Italian Sausage on their website!