Sunday, March 25, 2012

Marie Callender's Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie

Made By:  ConAgra Foods Inc.
Required to Prepare:  oven, baking sheet, aluminum foil
{OR:  Microwave}
980 calories per package

This review is a special request from my sweetie!  We usually have my home cooking for dinners here, but before I came along, she used to have a lot of convenience dinners like this.  I can relate; when it's just you, you sometimes just want something easy.  Anyway, it had been a couple of years since she had one of these and the craving struck, so off to the store I  went to get dinner!

These can be prepared one at a time in the microwave, with a roughly 10-minute cooking time.  Since I was making two, we went with the "for flakier crust" oven directions--remove the pie from the box (but not the cooking tray), place on a baking sheet, shield the crust edges with a bit of aluminum foil, and bake at 400° for around 65 minutes.  Not exactly a quick dinner, but still rather easy and convenient.  I let the pies cool for around five minutes, and then we dug in!

Although the picture on the box shows the pie sitting pleasantly on a plate, I actually don't know how you'd get it out of the tray in one piece like that; we just left them in the little paper bowls.  The crust is really rich and buttery, and has a nice crisp texture.  The sauce has a nice flavor; the parmesan flavor is actually a bit subtle, I mainly notice a roasted pepper flavor, but it's definitely not bad.  The chicken is tender without being too soft, and the veggies were firmer than expected, almost a little too firm (but not quite).  I can see why my sweetie asked for these!  The calorie count is a little high, I suppose, but it's filling enough to be the meal all by itself, so it's not really too outrageous.  And, it's good enough to feel like a treat, at a really reasonable price. I don't think it'll be two years before we have the next one!  :D

Pagoda Express Chicken Fried Rice

Distributed By:  Schwan's Consumer Brands Inc. [Product of USA]
Required to Prepare:  Microwave Oven
680 calories per package

Last week I found myself in possession of a Safeway coupon good for $5 off any "New" frozen products.  So, of course I cruised the freezer aisles looking for "New" things to spend my coupon on!  I finally settled on three of these Pagoda Express frozen take-out style meals, and I am reviewing the first of them today!  I decided to try the Chicken Fried Rice first, as it seems like a direct competitor to the Tai Pei Chicken Fried Rice product that I've already reviewed (and enjoyed).

To prepare, we pull back the corner of the lid a little to vent, and microwave for four minutes; then we rip the lid off, give it a stir, set the lid back on top, and microwave for another two minutes or so.  Just like that, lunch is piping hot and ready to eat!

Comparing this to the Tai Pei product, I notice that the volume doesn't seem to have cooked down as much here, and the rice is a bit less soft, probably because this product doesn't use the steaming film.  Actually, I think I prefer the texture of this product; although the rice seems a bit on the dry side, the meat is much less soft and spongy--I think the lack of steaming is probably good for the chicken.  On the other hand, I think the Tai Pei fried rice may have been a bit more flavorful; I especially noticed the baby corn pieces being very bland and watery.  That is really my only real criticism with this, though, so overall I guess I thought it was good, if not memorable.  I'd probably get it again... if I get another coupon. :|