Lean Cuisine Thai Chicken Spring Rolls

Sometimes I wake up in the morning just feeling inadequate. You know, the blahs, the grumpies, a case of the Mondays, Axis I clinically diagnosed depression, wanting to punch someone in the face. Luckily, I learned one weird old tip from the internet and now I’m a new person.

Here are some of the things this weird old tip taught me to do:
Clean my yellowed, decrepit teeth by comparing them to a fake nail.
Cut down a bit of my belly every day with a straight razor
Shred the electric guitar like a pro- and never practice again!It’s pretty cool. When I’m not making $75 an hour working out of home for Google, I’m staying fit by eating new Lean Cuisine Thai Chicken Spring Rolls. Holy crap. They’re about the size of two wine corks, and about a third of the size of my recently enlarged penis, and fit perfectly in my newly refinanced home’s freezer. I can eat three of them to make a snack, and for the price of $2.59, send them to my homeless cancer-ridden Nigerian princess friend, whose parents are recently deceased, along with my monthly donation of $20,000.It’s okay, though. After she gives me my 2.4 million and Obama gives me my $10,000 stimulus check, I can buy all of the LCTCSR that I want. They’re not bad, either. With all of the non-practicing and non-exercising I do, all that activity makes me want to relax with something a little mild. With over 9,000 eclectic ingredients- white meat chicken, shredded cabbage, yellow carrots, and red curry sauce, I thought they’d be delicious and yet, comforting as a snack.Last Thursday, I made these spring rolls along with a sauce to dip them in. Bitches don’t know ’bout my dipping sauces. It would be much easier if these came with a dipping sauce to add as little or as much zest as you’d like, because the high-quality ingredients deserve a bold seasoning to go along with them. It really undermines the diversity of the components, which are clearly made to taste fresh and flavorful, when none of them are seasoned above a bland paste. It wasn’t an epic fail, but it certainly wasn’t win, either. The texture was perfect, just like a spring roll. It surprised me that three of these were only 200 calories, and Keepitcoming got scared, and said, “You’re movin’ in with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air”. I whistled for a cab and when it came near, the license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror. If anything I could say that this cab was rare, but I thought, “Nah, forget it. Yo’ home to Bel-Air!” I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8, and I yelled to the cabby, “Yo homes, smell ya later!” Looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the prince of Bel-Air.

But they were decent, with a greasy, faux Asian style texture that didn’t resemble diet food at all. If you do get them, make sure to add a sauce on the side because eating them plain sort of calls you out as a herp derp. Otherwise, they’re a delicious snack to eat alongside your PUDDI PUDDI and share some with Candlejack because it’s pretty gre

Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, CT

For anyone who has ever watched any type of food special on the History Channel they would have a good idea of what the deal is at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven. Their claim to fame is that they made the first Hamburger in the United States. Even the library of congress acknowledges them as the first to create the hamburger. The following paragraph should be a quick history lesson for those who don’t know about Louis’ Lunch, but you know what?… I’m too goddamn lazy to write one. If you don’t know about Louis’ Lunch, you’ve probably got no business reading a food review blog. Just go to google or wikipedia or something. Go do it now, I’ll be waiting for you to get back. It’s like someone from Jersey Shore trying the read a particle physics textbook, it just doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Take a quick second to just imagine Snooki trying to read a book about Einstein’s theory of relativity. Didn’t that brighten up your day? I know it did for me.The name of the place is actually quite misleading. Having a restaurant named Louis’ Lunch insinuates that one would be open for lunch, but instead the place has some rather odd hours of operation. The many times I have attempted to get one of the famed burgers during my lunch hour when I worked in New Haven, I have always found the place to be closed and locked up. For some odd reason I just assumed that the place was closed down. One night while going to go clubbing in New Haven, and having realized I didn’t want to pay $9 to get into a building and listen to crappy music and then have to may $6 for a drink, a friend offered to go to Louis’ Lunch. I guess “lunch” at Louis’ Lunch means 4pm-2am.The famous burger at Louis’ Lunch is incredible simple: a hearty patty of beef, a thick slice of tomato, cheese, and some onions, all between two slices of grilled white bread. The meat in the burger itself is cooked to perfection in Louis’ special vertical antique grills. The original flavour of the meat is not overdone in the cooking process, and all the other parts in the sandwich do not cover and outdo one another. The people at Louis’ Lunch are rather adamant about not having any condiments on their perfected burger. When the local drunkards would come in and ask for ketchup on their burgers they are told kindly yet firmly that they don’t put up with that kind of shit.

The size of the burger is actually quite large and is well enough a meal for any time of the day, may it be a little after lunch time or a 1am post drinking meal. The blend of flavours in the burgers is just about perfect and does not need to be changed. I don’t know if it is the way they cook the burgers that makes it so good, or they just have the original recipe and never changed it. Hell, if it ain’t broken don’t fix it. That what I always say.

A Trifle for Keepitcoming Love’s Birthday

Tonight was Keepitcoming Love’s 30th birthday, and to celebrate, I put the finishing touches on the birthday trifle I’d been slowly assembling this week. When I asked Keepitcoming what she wanted for her birthday cake, she asked for something boozy, mushy, floral, and containing berries. With a little creative research, I found a trifle on the blog Cream Puffs in Venice, made with lavender loaves, pastry cream, and macerated strawberries.It sounded good. But it needed to be extreme. So I amped it up a little with my own take on trifle. Luckily, we had a butt-ton of snow days this week. Day one, I baked the lavender loaves. It was an easy recipe with quite a few eggs, and with a little added orange zest and vanilla, turned out to make a delicious sponge cake. Very dense. I made this ahead of time because I had to let it sit. The more stale it is, the better it is for absorbing liquids and maintaining its shape. I also made the simple syrup for the cake. I wanted to have something to boost the floral notes in the trifle, so Keepitcoming and I made a lavender, honey, and rosewater syrup to soak the cake in.On day two, the pastry cream was made. This was an especially daunting task as I’d never made pastry cream before. Keepitcoming claimed she’d made it but couldn’t tell me anything about when or why she did. I think she dreamed about it. Nevertheless, this was easier than I thought and made me even cockier about cooking than before. To make the cream even more unctuous, I added a few tablespoons of Chambord and it gave it a really custardy and fruity flavor.That night, we cut up and macerated the strawberries with a little Grand Marnier. They were really frothy and boozy and chilled overnight. In the morning, I assembled the trifle with layers of each component, and a topping of fresh whipped cream with a heart of raspberries and preserves. And that was it! It was a wonderful birthday (made even more wonderful with pasta carbonara and a 1981 Vina Bosconia) and I was glad to have had the opportunity to share it with her.For the basic gist of this recipe, check out this website: she didn’t post the entire thing, so my ratios were off and I had to make some quick changes, but it’s relatively easy to figure out from the photos alone.

Archer Farms General Tso Potato Chips

Archer Farms might just try a little too hard. I grabbed a bag of this because, for one, Keepitcoming put her foot down on sliders for dinner, and for another, because I had some leftover wasabi and I wanted to create a cross-cultural photo montage for you. But after examining the multitude of flavors, my mind sort of wandered to the thoughts of creating an entire meal from Archer Farms potato chips. Is it possible? Or…even a whole day.

Ideally, I’d start the day by waking up to a nice plate of Archer Farms Smoky Bacon and Cheddar chips. Maybe around midday, have some Greek Inspired chips. When I go out with the guys, I’d munch on Spinach Artichoke and Buffalo Wing chips, and maybe late at night, wolf down some Macaroni and Cheese chips with some Cinnamon and Sugar chips for dessert.
But that’s on a good day. Most likely, I’d wake up late and hastily gulp a few handfuls of Stale Cereal chips, followed by a Philly Cheesesteak with Grease and/or Turkey Sliders for lunch, and then lapse into a nighttime potato chip coma with three too many bags of Gin and Tonic chips and Chubby Hubby chips. And then wake up and repeat the whole damned process.

Can a girl just get some damned Ruffles around here?

But I guess we were feeling like Asian food tonight. And since I never resist an opportunity to mock Swagger by eating bastardized Chinese (though his will always be my favorite) or break out my surplus wasabi, I present to you, Archer Farms General Tso Potato Chips. Most of the General Tso’s I’ve had has been flavored with pepper, garlic, ginger, and corn syrup. But overall, not bad, because it has the crispiness of the chicken and breading to bolster it. Would chips be a sufficient enough base?One aspect of Archer Farms’ packaging that I think is absolutely genius is the resealable chip bag. Brilliant. Why doesn’t everyone do that? Then I wouldn’t have to sue Frito Lay (again) for making me wheelchair bound after eating three family sized bags of Doritos in one sitting out of pressure from the persistent threat of stale chips. So that’s fantastic. The chips, immediately out of the bag, are pretty large. I’d say on an average, one to four inches in diameter and very few of them were broken. A good ratio. The seasoning wasn’t very heavy or powdery on the chips, but stuck well.

The chips smell like ginger. Quite a lot of it, in fact. It’s a unique scent that, for the first time, smelled more like General Tso’s than say, the General Tso’s at P.F. Chang’s. It had spiciness on the nose and a tasty garlicky smell, too. But all those scents disappeared once I took a bite. The first noticeable flavor was garlic, followed by bland potato chip. The ginger flavor was pretty spot on, but unfortunately fleeting. The overall result was a muddled set of Asiatic sauces that ended up in sweet, sugary corn syrup. Unfortunately, these chips went the way of most average Americanized Chinese cuisine- to the back of the refrigerator in an unmarked takeout box. The chips were good, though. Maybe some of their other flavors are more accurate.

Komforte Chockolates: Ramen Noodle, Tortilla Lime and Salt, and French Toast

Komforte indeed. With all of my favorite snack foods and one of my favorite brunches, (if paired correctly, ye shall have me as a loyal servant for life!) all they need is French Fries and Dip or Pepperoni Pizza and they might have a winner.

Komforte Chockolates, I admit, is one of the food products that has a direct correlation to my wanting to be a food blogger. I think I first noticed them in 2007 and instantly fell in love, but for whatever reason, didn’t get around to trying them. I was absolutely fascinated, though, and I know they paved the way for my intensive research (read: obsession) into seeking out more unusual and strange food combinations and eventually writing about them.
Finally being able to try them is special to me- they’ve had a soft spot in the back of my brain for a while. And at the peak of my college career, where things like tortilla chips, ramen noodles, and dining hall french toast are so quintessential, what better time to try them? I started out with the French Toast bar, made with milk chocolate, bagel chips, sea salt, and other natural flavors. Immediately, the packaging sang out “french toast” to me. With a bold, modernist font on a sunny yellow background, I felt like breakfast.
Unfortunately, the only thing about this resembling french toast was the sickly sweet, sticky mouthfeel I typically associate with artificial maple syrup. I got an immediate rush of fake butter and cinnamon at the start of my square, which faded out to sweet milk chocolate and white chocolate notes, reminiscent of a Kinder Egg. It was occasionally studded, emphasis on occasional, with crumbs of bagel chips, but not enough to register that they actually were bagel chips, and finished with that same overdominating fake butter flavor and a bit of sea salt. There was nothing that suggested bread or starch in here, and no real syrup flavor at all. We both found this to be far too sweet and unbalanced.
The next bar was the one that I was most excited about- the ramen noodle bar. Believe it or not, I’d only consumed my noodles cooked up until trying this, but I’d heard good things about people snacking on ramen like chips, or crumbling them up into salads for an extra crunch. This bar had a red interface and was simple- ramen noodles, soy sauce, and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate started out milky and stayed that way. A rather one dimensional flavor, but I tried to stay positive and assume it was that way to focus all attention on the star of the show: the noodles. If you bite this bar on the vertical edge, the chocolate will peel off and expose the ramen noodles within. Perfection. They are crispy, but toothsome, and dissolve in a pleasant starchy flavor. Pasta, in this case, the poor man’s pomodoro, was exactly what the last bar needed, and in this bar, it’s not too bad.As hard as I might have tried, though, I could not detect sea salt nor soy sauce, but it managed to be sufficiently flavorful without any extraneous attention. This was a tasty bar, but it was boring- everyone played too nicely together. I needed something risky. Something strange. A cocaine bar? No. But then…I found it.
Finally, it was time to try the Tortilla, Lime, and Salt bar. As I’d been ambivalent about the overly sweet milk chocolate in the french toast bar, I was excited, but had my guard up. My god, I was so wrong. This is the first bar I’ve had where I’ve tasted and had to remind myself that there was chocolate somewhere in the depths of the flavor. It was incredible- from the instant my teeth bit down on the piece, I was filled with an intense, natural, lime flavor and a sea salt tang. As I chewed, I got large pieces of corn tortilla chip in each bite, every piece swirling with grainy corn and even more sea salt, but never overwhelming. And finally, I got the chocolate- the best of the chocolate. All of the sugary sweetness had been tempered down and reduced to a milky texture with the right sugar level to cushion the intensity of the flavors. This, my friends, was umami. And my god, it was good. I want to order more of these. I want to give them to non-believers. I want to crunch and dissect and nom these unabashedly. And I want you to, too.

Lean Pockets Pretzel Bread: Grilled Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar and Roasted Turkey and Bacon with Reduced Fat Cheese

The poor man’s Hot Pocket, the Lean Pocket, has taken a gourmet twist. Once a Dickensonian tragedy with flavors like Mexican Fiesta, the lowly sandwich has now risen to the top of the frozen food chain, imitating bistro-esque flavors like pretzel bread, croissants, and chicken cordon bleu. Now that the Pocket family is putting on the Ritz, they can look down upon the lowly citizens who consume them and laugh.The Lean Pockets website has even gotten a little sarcastic with all the low-fat entitlement they can now tout. While perusing the diverse community of flavors, the site informed me that another Pocket could be cooked while I was “wasting my time” on this website, and that the breakfast Pocket was an “actual reason to open my eyes in the morning.” Maybe if I was a shut-in, but not quite. However, the new Pretzel Bread offerings were a reason for me to drag Keepitcoming to the grocery more than the usual three times a week. I fancy myself a pretzel bread connoisseur. I’ve traveled to the deep suburbs of Windsor to locate a Blimpie for a grilled pretzel sandwich. I’ve navigated smoky taverns for a pretzel burger. So finding a commercially viable alternative to actually eating out definitely intrigued me, as did the flavors.Right off the bat, there were a few strange things about these pockets. For starters, of the two flavors, LP has decided that the turkey and bacon sandwich was too intense to warrant its own cheese flavor, simply designating it as “reduced fat cheese.” Upon further examination, it appeared to be a blend of cheddar and mozzarella, along with bacon and tomatoes. For another thing, these look like pretzels and smell like pretzels. Until you put them in the microwave. And then they undergo a series of unpleasant and questionable scent and chemical changes throughout the two minute cooking process. Enough to make me think twice about eating them and peek in the microwave to see if they’d burnt or if I’d accidentally left a wrapper in there.
Once finished, they really do resemble pretzels, but with less rock salt and a slightly more metallic scent. They are also strangely sticky. The flavor was good as I’d expected to taste far less tinniness, my favorite aspect of pretzels, and was thusly assuaged. The turkey, bacon and cheese pretzel ‘wich, or as Lean Pockets says, “the quadfecta,” was blander than I’d thought. Some elements were present in flavor, some in texture. The bacon was smoky and flavorful but texturally non-existent. The turkey has disintegrated in the microwave. And the cheese blendno matter how long I let it sit, was molten hot and salty with no distinguishable sharpness or general elements of cheese.The grilled chicken jalapeno cheddar fared better, but once again, we had this persistent Clara Peller question- where was the meat? Compared to the mushiness of this sandwich, the turkey in the last one was practically turgid. With these, cheddar was a bit of a stretch, and it was more like salty nacho cheese sauce than sharp, gooey cheddar, but with a substantial spice to it and large pieces of pepper. That sort of worked to its advantage. However, with both sandwiches, I didn’t feel like I was eating a complete meal. Had these been packaged as “Soft Stuffed Pretzel Snacks” with spicy and regular cheese with more in the box, I might have felt that the price was justified for what it was, but coming into these expecting a meal with meat, I was a little disappointed. Even after microwaving, the pretzel bread wasn’t so hot. It was a little too chewy and plain, and a good deal of the salt had melted off in the cooking process. Both cheeses ended up being so salty that the pretzel’s natural flavors were really lost in the sauces.

I hope more frozen food companies are bold enough to experiment with pretzel bread, but in the future, if they’re as pretentious as Lean Pockets has been, I expect them to deliver on their product in an honest and forthcoming way.