Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Faves & Fails: Products from Jell-O, McCormick and Green Giant

I'm trying something new this week.... instead of a recipe, I'm writing reviews about new (or new-to-me) foods that I want to share. Some of the reviews are good, some not so good. This will be an ongoing occasional series, and I'd love feedback from readers about my opinions, whether you agree or not.

Jell-O Mousse Temptations
I already liked Jell-O's line of 60 calorie puddings, especially the dark chocolate varieties, so when I saw the new Mousse Temptations in the store, I grabbed the Dark Chocolate Decadence right away. Last night I tried the Caramel Creme for the first time. Wow! Both are delicious, and the Dark Chocolate Decadence really tastes like chocolate mousse and has a great flavor, but it is lighter and airier than "real" chocolate mousse. The Caramel Creme tastes like creme brulee and is also light and airy. Both of these are great for anyone looking for a guilt-free dessert fix. I love chocolate, but I'm very glad Jell-O included a caramel variety for people who don't... or those who just want a change. The name has it right: these are tempting so don't give in and eat the entire six pack at once! At around $3 for six, even the price is guilt-free.

McCormick GrillMates Mojito Lime Marinade Mix
I love McCormick GrillMates dry marinade mixes. They come in a variety of flavors, are inexpensive, use the oil and vinegars I already have on hand and do a great job flavoring and tenderizing meats whether they are meant for the grill or not. The Zesty Herb and Tomato Garlic and Basil are two of my favorites. I also love the Baja Citrus, especially the variation on the package that uses orange juice and honey, so when I saw Mojito Lime, I was more than willing to try it, despite my concern that the mint might be overwhelming. It, like all the GrillMates mixes, has directions for making the marinade with oil, vinegar and water, as well as a variation version. For the Mojito Lime, the variation is to use lime juice and honey with the oil. I tried it on chicken breast, letting it marinate overnight in the fridge, and then threw it on the grill. It was outstanding. The mint was very subtle and blended perfectly with lime and a hint of Caribbean flavor including garlic and a slight chile spark. I loved it and will be trying it again soon with boneless pork loin ribs.

Green Giant Health Blends Frozen Vegetables
Green Giant is one of the most reliable names in frozen foods, and I liked the idea of their Health Blends, which include a mix of veggies targeted at a health goal plus a flavored sauce. There are five varieties: Healthy Weight, Healthy Vision, Immunity Blend, Digestive Health and Healthy Heart. They were on sale at my local Publix supermarket so I grabbed the Immunity Blend and the Digestive Health because they both contained vegetables I love and the sauces on the label sounded good. The Digestive health was navy beans, yellow squash and spinach in a garlic sauce; the Immunity Blend included carrots, red bell peppers and broccoli in an herb and garlic sauce.

I tried the Digestive Health blend first and was completely disappointed. First of all, I have learned that I do not like these "steam fresh" packages that require you to grab the sides of a package of boiling hot food and PULL on them to open it. To me, that's a recipe for burns and I'm sure someone will be suing over that sooner than later. Second, navy beans, squash and spinach have radically different cooking times in the real world and the end result, after following the microwaving instructions on the box, was that the navy beans were undercooked and the squash was a mushy disaster. Third, the sauce was revolting. I know it was supposed to be garlic, but I don't know what was really in there because I have never tasted garlic like that! After two bites, I threw the whole package away.

After that experience, I waited a while to try the Immunity Blend and it was just as bad. The sauce ended up watered down and had a very odd flavor - what little flavor there was, the broccoli was mushy and the carrots were still partially frozen, despite an 1100 watt microwave and following the directions; in fact, the package itself was so hot I had real trouble opening it - yet part of the contents was ice-cold. Again, I threw the whole package away after a couple of bites. I do not have ANY interest in trying any of the other three blends and I think the whole thing is a bad idea. It's much less expensive and better tasting to buy family size bags of vegetables, mix them if you want to and season them yourself. These by Green Giant cost too much in my opinion, and far worse than that, they taste awful.

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日日夜夜 said...
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