I can’t believe it is already March! But I am glad to see that there is actually some sun and warmer weather too. I’m hoping this is really the first little blush of spring, which I am so much more than ready for this year. If you’re in the US, don’t forget that a new coupon book started on Thursday and there are some good deals to check out. Also, US and Canadian readers, don’t forget that it is that dreaded time of year when you have to “spring” forward an hour and lose a precious hour of sleep because it is the start of Daylight Savings Time.
Rians La Crème Brûlée – Dave and I both love crème brûlée but it’s one of those things that I just don’t make from scratch very often. It’s not even that it is hard to make, it just seems like there needs to be more than two of us for me to want to do it. So, these are a really good compromise because we can easily have two of them at a time and have some time before we need to eat the other two. The texture is almost as good as what I would make or what you could find in a restaurant. I think it was a bit stiffer or thicker and didn’t have quite the same super silky, smoothness, but it was still good. There’s a very nice vanilla flavour and like all good crème brûlée there’s just the right amount of sweetness. Really you get the sweetness from the packet of brown sugar that you sprinkle on the top and then heat to get that cracking sugar layer on top. Each cup comes with its own little packet of sugar and then you just need to either use a little kitchen torch or place it under the grill/broiler to get the sugar to melt into a delicious hard layer on top. They must have a better grill than I do because I couldn’t get my sugar to the right stage in the three minutes that they suggest on the packaging, but ovens vary so use your eyes instead of your timer for this step. Since that is the only preparation involved, these would be a great way to save yourself a bit of time and hassle if you were having friends over for a casual dinner. Or, like I mentioned, it’s great for a quick dessert treat, even when you don’t want to actually make anything. The crème brûlée comes in four individually sealed glass containers so you can have just one or all four. And certainly for the fairly small price, you couldn’t get crème brûlée at a restaurant for even one, let alone four. 4, 96 gram cups for £2.99 (US: $4.56). Item #: 0034263.
Kirkland Signature Chicken Enchiladas -These are HUGE! Seriously, the the sheer size of these enchiladas is amazing. They put two of them in the standard black plastic container that most of their deli items come in, and they are truly filling the entire space available. I’d say they are like 9 or 10 inches long and 4 or so inches wide. They are made with wheat tortillas and packed with chicken breast meat, along with other delicious things like cheddar cheese, spicy refried beans, and a nice spicy sauce. The real star is the chicken, of course because it is so moist and they aren’t chintzy with it either. I had thought they used the rotisserie chickens to make these but they don’t specify that, so now I’m not so positive; maybe that was an older version. Pickings are slim here in London in the Tex-Mex or Mexican restaurant area, this is actually one of the best things going unless we make something ourselves, which we do sometimes but it is nice to have someone else cook dinner every now and again. And these are actually quite good. Sure, it’s not in any way authentic Mexican food, but it tastes good and that is the most important thing. We actually popped these into the freezer when we got home and had them in there for a few weeks before we thawed them out and ate them. Because they are so dense and big, the thawing process took a while in the refrigerator. I think it took them a full 24 hours to properly thaw. They are really easy to cook too because you can just keep them in the black tray and pop it into the oven for about 25 minutes and you are good to go. For me, one of these enchiladas is dinner and lunch the next day; for Dave it’s just one meal. So, if I think about these being 3 meals, it really is a great deal. You could easily feed four people with these if you added a few things to your meal, like a salad and vegetables as well as maybe some rice or even a quesadilla (any excuse for more cheese, I say). I think these are perfectly spicy, neither too hot nor too mild, but if you’re not into spicy things I’m not sure how you’ll judge them. They didn’t make my mouth feel like it was going to catch fire or anything, but they weren’t like eating a plain tortilla either. I regret that I somehow missed these when taking my photos, so I don’t have one, unfortunately. £6.52 (US: $9.93). Item #: 0080245.
Castella Mediterranean Tapas Platter – We actually got this a while back when we were in Kansas visiting my mom and it was delicious. It’s packed full of hot olive salad, olive medley, marinated artichoke hearts, seasoned feta cheese, provolone cubes, tri-color sweet peppers, and cheese stuffed zesty peppers. The container is great because everything is sealed into its own little section and there’s also a lid. Once you take the wrapping off though, it is ready to pop on the table to serve, so it is perfect for a party. I think it is great that there is a mix of spicy things and non-spicy things too, that way there is something for everyone. And of course, I liked that there was some cheese involved too. I am a sucker for the cheese stuffed peppers, so those were definitely my favourite. However, it was all really tasty. All of the olives are pitted so you don’t have to worry about where to discard your pits or how to get them out of your mouth without breaking at least three rules of etiquette. The packaged weight of this mix is 3.5 pounds, so you can imagine how much food that means you are getting. If you are having it for a pre-dinner nibble, with a small group, like we did, you are probably going to have some left over. And that’s what makes it so nice that there is a lid that you can just pop on and put it back in the fridge. We also found that it worked great to use the leftovers for a salad the next day. Basically, all you’ve got to do is add some lettuce and maybe some croutons. It would also be perfect to add to some pasta for a quick, but wonderful looking, pasta salad. 3.5 pounds$14.69 (UK: £9.64). Item #: 821230.
Kirkland Signature Trek Mix – This is another US product, and I’m so glad I tried it because it is a really nice trail mix. So, normally I’m not a huge fan of trail mix because they don’t get the mix right, in my opinion. It is usually a lot of dry, not so flavourful stuff and even though it might be giving you lots of healthy energy, it tastes like eating wood chips. So, Costco has made a few smart tweaks and ended up with something that is tasty and still healthy. The KS Trek Mix is made up of: cranberries, chia cinnamon granola clusters, roasted salted cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and KS chocolate chips. I am so glad that they went with actual chocolate chips instead of the carob that you often find in mixes like this. A serving size is 1/4 cup with 150 calories and is really filling too. I find this a nice little post-exercise treat in the afternoon. The mix is ideal for me because of the smart use of nuts and seeds along with the cranberries, so the mix isn’t too dry. Plus, you’ve got the chocolate chips which add a bit of sweetness. The chocolate chips are fairly small too which is good because you don’t end of having just chips or nuts at the bottom of the mix. I’m impressed that they’ve gotten the mix proportions down so well, because you really don’t end up feeling like you’re having just a bunch of cheap oats with a smattering of the “good” stuff like nuts. So many trail mix companies seem to err on the side of low-cost instead of flavour, so I’m glad to see that KS didn’t skimp. I think my favourite bit is the chia cinnamon granola clusters though, especially when combined with the cranberries. There’s just something about the taste that really hits the right note for me. Last time I was eating some, I thought what a great breakfast cereal the clusters and cranberries would make (hint, hint Costco). I usually just have a little bowl of the Trek Mix plain, however, I have also used it too perk up some yogurt. I’ve been tempted to try it like cereal too but it’s a little too heavy on the nuts for that I think. I’m glad I got a chance to try this out and I’m hoping they bring it to the UK stores as well but I haven’t seen it so far, unfortunately. 2 pounds for $7.99 (UK: £5.24). Item #: 853197.