Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nissin Souper Meal Picante Shrimp Flavor

Made By:  Nissin USA
Required to Prepare:  Water, Microwave
580 calories per package

I've decided it is high time I have some noodles for lunch again!  So, even though the doctors are all having Jimmy Johns for lunch, instead of getting that for myself, I brought some ramen to work.  I got these Souper Meals on sale at Safeway the other day for buy-1-get-1-free, so today's lunch will be an enormous bowl of Picante Shrimp noodles!  With "Improved Flavor and Premium Straight Noodles," I don't see how we can go wrong.

There are two packets to open inside, one with dried goodies (including some tiny shrimp), and the other with a spicy-smelling soup base.  We add water to the inside line, then microwave for around 4-1/2 minutes.  We are supposed to let it stand for 2 minutes before serving; mine ended up standing a bit longer than that as work interfered for a while, and the delicious aroma of noodles permeated a good portion of the office, taunting me, until I was able to get away again and enjoy my lunch.

There seems to be even more noodles in one of these than I remember!  They have a nice soft texture, not unlike an egg noodle from a canned soup, and they absorbed the flavor of the broth well.  The broth was not dramatically spicy, but did have a nice chili-powder flavor to counterpoint the typical shrimp broth.  I definitely enjoyed this!  The portion size was a little bit ridiculous, honestly, since no-one is really going to eat the "serving size" of half the container; however, I did finish the whole thing without feeling miserable.  I'd buy them again!  :)

Oh, ramen, how I've missed you.  If grocery-store ramen hits the spot like this, I really need to get to an Asian market soon.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Safeway Select Appetizers: Chicken Empanadas, Firecrackers, and Bags of Gold

Distributed by:  Safeway, Inc.
Required to Prepare:  Oven

Chicken Empanadas:  75 calories per piece
Firecrackers:  70 calories per piece
Bags of Gold:  80 calories per piece

My sweetie and I occasionally enjoy having a "tapas" dinner of sorts, by getting a variety of these frozen appetizers and making a meal out of them.  These are the ones that we usually get; she was the one that got me started on them, and even after all manner of flitting around trying different things by the Butterfly, these are still the ones we seem to like the best.

Although the package directions give a slightly different cook time for the empanadas, I find they all turn out fine by baking at 400° for 7 minutes per side.  They can also be deep-fried, which gives them a crisper texture, but we use the oven more often, just because it seems a little easier.

The Chicken Empanadas and Firecrackers are similar; the crispy exterior is sort of like a grilled flour tortilla.  The filling of the empanadas have a distinct jalapeƱo and bell pepper flavor along with the chicken and cheese, and the Firecrackers have more like a pulled roast beef and nacho filling.  The Bags of Gold are the odd one out; the wrapper is thinner and lighter, more like a wonton wrap, and rather than a Mexican flavor, the spinach and cheese filling is more European in style.  Even from the oven, they do get crispy on the outside, although they are of course a bit chewier than if they were deep-fried.

We definitely enjoy them, with either prep method.  We choose them over more expensive name-brand frozen appetizers, and it's not because we are sacrificing quality for price--it's because we like these the best, and the fact that they are inexpensive is just a happy coincidence.  :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Old El Paso Meal for 2 Shredded Beef Burritos

Distributed By:  General Mills Sales
Required to Prepare:  Microwave
490 calories per burrito

I apologize for not having taken my own photos for this one; I wasn't intending to review this one until after I experienced the quality of this product.

The first bit of wrongness comes from the preparation instructions:  Despite being billed as a "Meal for 2", the only instructions provided are for microwave cooking, which specifically state not to cook both burritos at the same time--so, do they plan for my wife to start eating while mine is heating up, or do they think one of us just gets a cold one?

At any rate, we cook them one at a time, for five minutes each, in their silly little individual steamer bags.  (The cooking instructions say 4-6 minutes depending on microwave wattage; mine isn't low or high, so 5 it is.)  They also stand for two minutes to "complete cooking", which is apparently slang for "turn into concrete".  You know, I expected a soggy tortilla, and I wouldn't have complained about that.  Dried out, leathery, impenetrable tortilla?  Not as acceptable.  Forget cutting with a fork; they couldn't even be cut with a table knife.

For the record, the flour tortilla seemed to have been of the whole-wheat variety; unlike the package picture, they were moderately dark in color and the little bits that were edible had a whole-wheat flavor.  After using kitchen shears to finally get at it, the filling inside seemed overly spicy and really didn't seem worth the effort needed to free it from its protective shell.

To summarize, these were utterly abysmal.  Not only have they warned me away from ever trying any more of Old El Paso's frozen offerings, they've actually made me wary of their traditional products as well.  I don't know who decided these were ready to market, but they deserve to have to eat this. :b