Monday, October 29, 2012

Birds Eye Voila! Three Cheese Chicken

Made By:  Pinnacle Foods Group LLC  [USA]
Required to Prepare:  Covered Skillet & Range (or Microwave), 1/2c water
420 calories per 1/2 package

We worked hard today, and so I'm making a convenience meal for our dinner tonight!  In the freezer I had this Voila! Three Cheese Chicken skillet meal, which sounded pretty good, so that's what I settled on.  These Birds Eye meals are actually very economical compared to some of the other brands--I think I gave around $4 for this, so if it's good, then I expect to be trying some of the other varieties!

Inside the bag is a mélange of broccoli, corn, carrots, radiatori pasta, and chicken cubes.  I don't actually see any sauce chips; I think the sauce might be frozen onto the pasta pieces.  Anyway, this one is very simple to prepare; we dump the contents of the bag into our skillet, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.  After I lifted the lid, the meal was hot, but still looked watery, so I gave it a couple of extra minutes uncovered to cook down a bit, which helped things quite a bit.  I ladle it out into two dinner-size bowls, and my sweetie and I are ready to eat!

For something billed as a Three-Cheese Chicken, I do have to say that the cheese and chicken, while present, are not all that prominent.  The veggies actually seem to be the star of the show; the broccoli and carrots are very nicely firm-tender, and the carrots and corn are naturally quite sweet, to the point of making the overall dish seem a bit sweet.  The chicken pieces do have a nice texture and flavor, as does the sauce, though I wish there were a bit more of both.

On the plus side, it was a reasonably good dinner for a very reasonable price, and it has the side benefit of making you feel like you just had a really healthy meal--we definitely ate our vegetables tonight!  That said, I'm not sure it's the kind of thing I would really get excited about.  :|

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Maruchan Akai Kitsune Udon

Made By:  Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd. [Japan]
Required to prepare:  ~14 oz. boiling water
410 calories per serving

Available online through

Today is a cold, rainy day in Woodinville, WA, so a hot comfort food sounds like just what I need for a quick lunch!  I'm trying these noodles from Maruchan of Japan (who should not be confused with Maruchan USA).  Although there is english writing on the package in various places, such as the instructions and nutrition information, strangely there is no translation of the name on the package.  So, I have to resort to my extremely-limited japanese-decoding skills, and I make out the name as Akai Kitsune Udon, which seems like it would mean something like 'red fox noodles.'  Whatever they're called, I'm ready to try them, so on with the review!

The kitsune [fox] part of the name means that the noodles are topped with an abura-age, which is a seasoned fried tofu pocket thing, and which are the same thing used for making inari sushi.  Unlike other 'udon' products I've tried, these are dry noodles rather than being vacuum-packed fresh ones.  We also have a double-packet of seasonings, that has a basic-looking soup base in one side and what seems to be an extremely tiny amount of chili powder in the other.  We open the packet into the noodles, fill the bowl to the line with boiling water, close the lid, and let stand for five minutes.  Then after a quick stir we are ready to eat!

The broth is mild but quite flavorful; it has that dashi flavor that I really love, like in the Nong Shim Japanese-Style Udon.  I don't notice any sort of heat at all; if that really was chili powder in the packet, there wasn't enough of it to change anything.  The noodles are nice, but remind me more of an egg noodle than a true udon--the flavor is close but a little too rich, and the texture isn't quite right either.  Still, they are not bad by any means and accompany the broth well.  The abura-age has an interesting flavor, if you've never had one; they're mildly sweet and kind of remind me of a waffle.  It can also be a bit unwieldy to eat, especially (I would imagine) with a different implement than chopsticks--the outside crust is quite firm and tends to resist efforts to stab or cut it.  I can fold it in half and pick it up to take bites, but I'm not sure how you'd go at it with a fork or spoon.

Overall, I liked this one quite a bit; it seemed like another nice variation on traditional Japanese noodle soup. It might not be my absolute favorite in the category, but I'll probably buy it again. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MAMA Oriental Style Instant Noodles Artificial Tom Yum Pork Flavor

 Made By:  Thai President Foods, Ltd. [Thailand]
Required to Prepare:  Hot water (10oz)
270 calories per package

(Available online from

Today I chose another noodle from MAMA, just so I can remind myself how good their 'regular' noodles are compared to those 'non-fried' ones I had last time.  I've already reviewed two of these Tom Yum flavors--Shrimp, and Creamy Shrimp--so I'll also see how much different a Tom Yum Pork can possibly be from a Tom Yum Shrimp.

Inside the package is our lovely golden-brown block of noodles, along with three seasoning packets.  The pink one is the powdered Tom Yum soup base, but unlike the shrimp varieties, there is no chili powder packet--instead, the yellow foil pack has mostly sesame seeds in it, and rather than a bright red chili oil packet, the orange oil packet has a thick oil infused with minced garlic.  Preparation is the same, at least:  We place all the ingredients into a bowl, add 1-1/4 cups of boiling water, and cover and wait three minutes.  Then we stir it up and serve!

While the Tom Yum hot-and-sour flavor is still the primary flavor of the broth, the sub-flavors are indeed quite a bit different.  The garlic sub-flavor is subtle but blends with the Tom Yum flavor well.  Despite the absence of either chili oil or chili powder packets, it is not mild in the least, although it's possibly a little less aggressive than the shrimp versions.  I think it might be my favorite version of Tom Yum soup I've tried so far!  As far as the noodles themselves go, I'll just say that MAMA's firm, light, delicious oriental-style noodles are still my favorite.  I'm definitely going to be keeping this one in stock from now on!  :D

Saturday, October 13, 2012

MAMA Ramen Artificial Duck Flavor

Made By:  Thai President Foods, Ltd.
Required to Prepare:  Saucepan & Range, 1-1/2c water
220 calories per package

The Ramen Butterfly is back by popular demand!  Whoa, has it really been over four months since I did one of these?  I guess time flies when you get sidetracked, sometimes.  Thanks to the supportive commenter who reminded me I need to eat some noodles!

So, today I had these Artificial Duck Flavor "Oriental Non-Fried Instant Noodles" from MAMA; I figured the Thailand-style small serving was good for an afternoon snack.  I like most of MAMA's products quite a bit, but I'm also not sure what to expect from a non-fried noodle, so we'll just have to see what these are like!

Inside the package is a loosely-formed block of semi-translucent noodles, along with three flavor packets; we have a seasoning powder and a seasoning oil, along with the usual (for Thai noodles) small packet of optional chili powder.  We are supposed to bring 1-1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes, and then stir in the seasoning powder--naturally, I add the entire packet of chili powder too.  The instructions tell us to put the seasoning "oil" (which is more of a paste) in the bowl and add the noodles on top, which I do, although why it matters how you add it to the soup is beyond me.  Give everything a stir, and we are ready to serve!

The main aroma I detect is of five-spice seasoning, not duck.  I wonder if that is a traditional seasoning for duck in Thailand?  In any case, the broth has a nice flavor of both duck and five-spice.  With the entire chili packet, I'd rate the heat level at around a 3/5, and of course that can be tailored to your preference by adding less or none of the packet.  The noodle texture is very different from MAMA's other noodle products; instead of being dark, firm, and flavorful, these 'non-fried' noodles are pale, quite soft, and don't seem to have much flavor of their own aside from what they pick up from the soup--a lot like the noodles in a domestic Top Ramen.  I wouldn't call them bad, exactly, but I do rather prefer the normal MAMA noodles.  Would I have them again?  Honestly, probably not, when I could probably find the same flavor with the nicer noodles for a similar calorie count.  I did like the flavor though. :|