A Sweet(ish) TJ’s Review

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I have never been “accused” of being “vanilla” in my life, for either style or personality. But, even if I were, I would not be offended. How can you take “vanilla” as a cut-down? It’s beautiful, fragrant, tropical, floral, and so sweet (unless you try the extract…don’t do that…or let a friend try it, it’ll make a good prank!). Its speckled beauty perfumes frostings, adding both flavor and a delicious richness. Vanilla is very appealing to me.

So, when I saw these Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes on the shelf, amongst the Lemon Zinger Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, and GF Chocolate Cupcakes (sorry, Husband, I had to do research), I was immediately drawn to them. You could see the specks of vanilla in the creamy frosting. I chose these over chocolate (that sounds like a confession and it might as well be).

They came home with me. I felt like a proud, new Mama.  I was very excited. I put them in the fridge at home because it was a very hot day outside and I didn’t want any melty frosting. There is a time and a place for melty frosting. This was not it.

I digress. Frosting-talk easily makes me digress.

Don’t judge.

Anyways, I have to say I was very disappointed in these. Both the cake and frosting were hard, as if the cupcakes had been sitting on the shelf for way too long (and not in that Ho-Ho, Ding-Dong, Zingers, Twinkies sort of a way, because I can handle that shelf-life). I even kept them out on my counter and defrosted completely to try round 2. They were still too hard. The cake itself was crunchy in some places and looked a little too over baked. The frosting never got soft. I could tell that there was a good vanilla flavor in both the cake and frosting, but the hardened texture of both overshadowed any deliciousness.

Sorry TJ’s. These were not so good. But don’t worry, when it comes to cakes, cookies, and the like, I have a tenacious spirit. I’ll give your baked goods a second (third, fourth, fifth…) chance. I really want to like them.

Review Result: These were meh, but perhaps I got a “bad batch”? Stay tuned for future baked goods reviews.

In the meantime, if you want to make your own vanilla cake, see this blog post. In it is a recipe I used for an almond-y vanilla cake. So good. Try it.

https://sprinklesinmylunchbox.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/happy-100-blog-posts/

Hope you’re day is as sweet as these cupcakes, but not as crunchy. Because that wouldn’t be good. Unless the crunchy parts were bit that were supposed to be there, like hazelnuts or toffee. Because then that would be like an extra bonus.

Yummy crunchy bits also easily make me digress.

Kristin

Honey Sesame Tofu & a TJ’s Review

Oh, boy! A Trader Joe’s opened up near me! Yippee! I know that many people are used to having this store, but it’s a big deal in our town. We’ve waited patiently for it to be built, and then we waited patiently for the crowds to die down. We finally braved it last weekend, early in the morning. The trucks had just been unloaded (I think) and most of the shelves stocked. The boys found Parker the Peacock (the store’s stuffed animal), a first for this location, or so we were told by a worker. They got a prize, we got fun groceries (some of which include wine [obvi], gnocchi, meatballs, chicken tenders, “green” juice”, cupcakes [I had to!], ginger cookies [their number one selling item!], frozen fruit, and GF waffles for Hubs). It was a good time. I decided to do a review on some of the items we bought.

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Today, I am reviewing the Trader Joe’s Organic Sprouted Tofu.

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A good reviewer would have written down the price…or saved the receipt. I did neither. But I do remember that this twin-pack was the cheapest of all the tofu selections there. I like that you get two smaller blocks of tofu. Sometimes I don’t want to eat a whole brick.

They were packed in their “tofu juice”, as usual. I covered my block with a paper towel and let it drain. Then I cut it into cubes. The inside of the block crumbled a bit, despite being “extra firm”, but the crumbles were big enough to count as a “piece”.

I decided to make a honey and sesame version. My recipe is below. It came out delicious. My youngest, Smalls, ate almost half of the serving. He couldn’t get enough of the “to-few”.

Review Result: Recommended

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Honey Sesame Tofu

Serves: 2

1 brick of tofu (as you know, the TJ’s one was smaller)

1 T sesame oil

1 t vegetable oil

1 – 2 T sesame seeds

1.5 t soy sauce

1.5 t honey

1/2 t brown sugar

Place the sesame seeds in a small pan and heat on medium until brown, swirling in pan (so they don’t burn). You can skip this step, but you’ll be sorry. Browning the sesame seeds makes them incredibly nutty and fragrant, and deep with flavor.

Remove seeds from pan and add sesame oil to pan. Add the tofu and brown. I added the veggie oil because the tofu pieces were starting to burn.

Once browned, added the soy sauce, honey, and brown sugar. Add sesame seeds right before serving.

You don’t have to add the brown sugar. I did it so there would be some caramelization.

Enjoy! 🙂

And PS – I learned tonight I can use chopsticks with my left hand (I’m right-handed for writing) as well as my right hand! NEAT! Who knew!

Kristin