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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Simply Balanced Chicken Tortilla Soup

I always assumed tortilla soup would, you know, have tortillas in it. But what do I know?

Instead, it's a red broth with black beans, corn, and little hunks of chicken. Not bad. The broth is mildly spicy, and the corn and beans are nothing to complain about...although, I wouldn't have minded if there were a lot more of them. 

The soup is pretty soupy...you know, brothy, that is. It's mostly just liquid—not nearly as chunky as the picture on the box would have you believe. That alone wasn't the product's biggest weakness, as the liquid part of the soup was pretty decent and flavorful.

The chicken chunks were all near-perfect cubes, and were abnormally dark, even for dark meat chicken. They were a deep brown—such a gloomy color that I think if I hadn't known any better, I would have assumed they were little pieces of low-grade beef. Fortunately, they didn't taste nearly as bad as they looked. But once again, the soup could have used a good bit more of them.

I definitely think this melange would have benefited from little tortilla bits—either the kind that come in a little plastic bag that you add yourself or the kind that are soft to begin with and don't mind swimming around in salty soup for some indeterminate amount of time on Target's shelves. This soup was crying out for carbs but did not deliver in that department.

So I added some carbs myself in the form of good old-fashioned saltine crackers. They certainly helped, but not quite enough.

It was $2.29 for the box at the Target where we discovered it—I believe somewhere in coastal Georgia, probably near Savannah, as our recent adventures have taken us through The Jewel of the South. It's just a little pricier than your average can of soup, but the box is one ounce bigger, too. But in the end, this product just wasn't enough bang for the buck to be a repeat purchase.

I'll give the soup 6 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Archer Farms Jingle Blend

I wasn't paying much attention when I reviewed the Rudolph's Mix. Like this indulgent trail mix, it contains actual name-brand M&M's. And I couldn't even tell that they were the real thing. I just assumed they were a store-brand ripoff like the "milk chocolate buttons" found in other grocery store candy items.

Most of the ingredients in this mix are so big that you'll only want to eat one at a time, so there's not much mixing and matching here. You're only tasting one element in any given bite. But that's fine by me, since each ingredient stands alone just fine.

Like the Rudolph's Mix, this trail mix comes in a very small container. And I mean, like, that picture of the product on the side there...that's the entire contents of the package—only two nonpareils in the whole shebang. It's barely more than a single handful. There's a larger jar available too, for about ten bucks. But in both cases, I only purchased the small box.

Also worthy of note—in just the couple of weeks since the Rudolph's Mix review, the price on the smaller containers has fallen from $2.99 per box to $1.66 per box. Maybe they weren't selling as quickly as Target had hoped.

They're both pretty tasty. I feel like this one is just a tad more wholesome since there are more nuts and raisins, rather than just sweet bready things and chocolate—however, there is plenty of chocolate here as well. There's both milk and white chocolate covered elements, although a fair number of the nuts are completely naked, save for a dusting of salt.

In the end, it's a decent little pick-me-up snack, but there's nothing particularly Christmassy about it except for the packaging and the little green and red doodads on the nonpareils—in fact, there's nothing very memorable about it at all.

But since it's near the holidays and they did drop the price a bit, I'm feeling like another 7 out of 10 is in order here. I wouldn't be upset if Santa stuffed my stocking with another pack of the Jingle Blend on Christmas morning...but I wouldn't be super thrilled either.

7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Archer Farms Rudolph's Mix

I would have thought reindeer needed leafy greens, veggies, and fruits to fuel that Christmas Eve trek around the globe. Turns out those eight tiny fellows—or at least their red-nosed ringleader—gorge themselves on sugar and chocolate-laden trek mix for energy. Who knew?

Seems like this snack might be better for fattening up those antlered animals for use in some kind of venison burger, rather than for priming them for an aerial expedition pulling a fat man's sleigh loaded with innumerable toys for many thousands of miles across vast mountain ranges, plains, and countrysides. But hey, as long as you're burning the calories one way or the other...

It's truly an "indulgent" mix, as the box plainly states. For nutrition facts, please click here. I don't want to put them up in this review because I don't want to think about all the calories I just consumed.

Was it worth it? Yes, for the most part.

The components of this mix, in order from my least favorite to most favorite, are as follows:

Generic M&M thingies*: Meh. We've all had these before. Chocolate with a candy shell.

Graham bites: Better than just plain old graham-flavored cereal, these bites are fairly thick and crunchy. They make a good base for a sweet, desserty trail mix.

Peanut butter cups: Everybody's had peanut butter cups before, but these are pretty good. Quality PB and chocolate can't hurt a mix like this.

White chocolate-covered generic Cheerio thingies: I don't think I've ever had white chocolate-covered Cheerios before, but they're actually really tasty. I wonder what a bowl full of these with milk would be like.

Puppy chow Chex-type pieces: You ever had puppy chow? Or muddy buddies? These things are just like that, right down to the powdered sugar. They don't strike me as being "chocolate-covered" exactly. They're just like Chex cereal squares with a sugary glaze over them. Anyway, they're tasty.

All the components work together reasonably well, although I'm always wishing there were fewer of the M&M's and more of the grainy elements. There's a really big jar of this stuff available at Target for something like $11. I guess that would be good for a Christmas party or something like that. We just got the little $2 sampler-type deal. I don't think I could eat any more than that anyway.

I give this trail mix 7 out of 10 stars.

*They're actually name brand M&M's, not generic.

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