Archive for the ‘Chew & Review’ Category

Who here watches Top Chef? Oh, all 3 of my loyal, very patient readers? Perfect. Well, then I’m sure you remember Kristen Kish‘s revamped Crustless Chicken Pot Pie in Season 10. It rang a vague, dim bell for me in the frozen meals aisle of my local Dominick’s, when the Healthy Choice Steamer line was on sale 4/$10. I hadn’t seen this particular Steamer in the store before, so I figured I’d better pick it up with the intentions of blogging about it, then eating it at my desk and totally not blogging about it when I got home in lieu of watching reruns of Vanderpump Rules. Side note, I think we can all agree Bravo has the best programming lineup ever, am I right?

But…I feel inspired by this Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Steamer – not because it’s really all that good, but because I’m curious about this Google Authorship business. I’ve been spending some serious time at work updating my company’s Google+ profile because I’m pretty sure it’s going to do great things for its SEO, and I’m pretty sure adding authorship to my blog content will also skyrocket me to instant success! Job offers will pour in, I’ll be booking speaking engagements and press tours in no time and will have to write my labor of love memoir/cookbook, which I imagine will be a cross between Sonja Morgan‘s toaster oven cookbook and Teresea Giudice’s “Fabulicious!”. Perhaps should stop watching so much TV.

Back to the topic at hand – this Crustless Pot Pie Steamer. Meh. I mean, you should try it, and I will actually probably try it again, just in case I actually do like it, but I was underwhelmed. This was the Top Chef Season 10 Elimination Challenge winner in Episode 9, “Past Suppers“? I’m sure Healthy Choice got a hold of it and it went something like this:

Healthy Choice executive: “Kristen, this dish is nice and all, but have you thought about using a bland, mildly revolting, translucent sauce as your base? I’m just saying…. Oh, and have you thought about adding pearl onions? We really like pearl onions around here.

Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie

Yeah, the translucent sauce is the base of this Steamer, but it does seem to have a better flavor this time around. Described by Healthy Choice as ” juicy chicken breast tenderloins with carrots, corn, peas, and tender dumplings, all in a savory pot pie sauce,” one instantly hones in on “tender dumplings” and gets oneself pretty pumped for this crustless crust. And then oneself is pretty damn disappointed, because the tender dumplings taste like the outside of a Wow Bao, and we all know the best part of the Wow Bao is the bbq pork inside. You wouldn’t just eat the outside of a Wow Bao, would you? The answer is no, you would not.

I would like to say the corn was really excellent in this Steamer. It seemed fresh and delicious, and the chicken wasn’t in the least bit disgusting. It just overall lacked flavor, but I’d be willing to give it another try, just to make sure. In the meantime, I’m going to get back to these DVR’ed episodes of I Dream of Nene. Oh, and if someone stumbles across this blog, it seems I’d also be willing to get famous writing reviews of Bravo reality shows.

Healthy Choice Crustless Chicken Pot Pie Nutrition Facts:


FAT: 6g



SODIUM: 560mg


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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the urge to blog. It happens. But inspiration hit while eating a brand new (to me) Lean Cuisine.  Almost nothing excites me more than finding a new Lean Cuisine that I love, so please allow me to share my thoughts on this one with you.

Lean Cuisine Ranchero Beef

Clocking in at 6 Points Pluses, this Lean Cuisine Culinary Collection Ranchero Braised Beef is described as “braised beef in a spicy red chile sauce served with a side of chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.” Mmmm, frozen meal quality beef – one of my favorites! Seriously.

Lean Cuisine Ranchero Braised Beef

While this might not look like much (and let’s be honest, there were like 4 chunks of meat in this), it tastes DELICIOUS! The whole thing actually has tons of flavor – the weird beef is fantastic with a bbq-like spicy sauce with weird chunks in it (onions? chiles? who cares!) and the chipotle mashed potatoes are sweet with a bit of a smoky kick. Because I can’t get enough carbs with spray butter, I sprayed the potatoes and added salt. It wasn’t totally necessary, but I have an itchy spray butter finger.

I’ll definitely be adding this to the lunch roto, provided I can find Lean Cuisines on sale (yeah, I’d never pay $4 for this).

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Something happened during March. Well, a few things. I managed not to post a single blog, I totally fell off the Weight Watchers bandwagon and I tripped, fell and tumbled quite un-gracefully to my knees while running on one of the busiest streets in Chicago. Fabulous. I quickly mumbled an incoherent f-bomb, then recovered enough to speed-limp away from the stares of the gaping hipsters. Only, my leg hurt. My knees were bloody and my hands were missing some skin, but the real problem was my left leg – some sort of muscle behind my knee felt pretty terrible. That thing hurt (badly), but I stupidly pressed on, determined to hightail it to Kmart to redeem some coupons. This was probably a mistake, as that thing still kind of hurts, but hey, I’m set on Ziploc bags for the next year. A torn muscle is a small price to pay for such a luxury.

So I took two weeks off running, and 3ish weeks off my diet, because that makes good sense. I sunk so low that I managed to have McDonalds twice before 8 a.m. the other day, and I probably single-handedly kept the Reese’s Pieces Easter egg factory in business this year. Damn, those little eggs are good.

Reese's Pieces Easter Eggs

But, like always, I’ve got to reign things in and make an effort to throw away that gigantic bag of fried cheese balls I accidentally bought yesterday. Luckily, things over at Lean Cuisine seem to be on the right track, too. Instead of making things that people sort of dread to eat, they’re making things that are fun to eat, like cheesy dips and spring rolls. I live for dips and foods in the shape of taquitos, so it’s no wonder that both the Spinach Artichoke Dip and Thai-Style Chicken Spring Rolls get my big stamp of approval.

Lean Cuisine Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Mmmm, dip. I ate this the other night after I had an early dinner of the new Dorito Taco Loco from Taco Bell (more on that later). I was hungry, but not starving, so thought this would be a sensible option. Notice how I cut that pita bread into 4 chunks, not the mere 3 pictured on the box (genius). You might not be able to tell, but that’s actually a pretty large amount of dip. In fact, there was even dip left over when I was done, and I am NOT just putting a smattering of dip on my bite of pita. I’m double dipping all day long, and basically just using the pita in lieu of a spoon. This dip is delicious, tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant, and will cost you just 5 Points Pluses for one pita and one dip (2 come in a box). It makes an awesome snack, and would be perfect with a small salad or veggies for lunch.

Next up are my new favorite, Thai-Style Chicken Spring Rolls. Let’s have a look:

Lean Cuisine Thai Chicken Spring Rolls

Disclaimer, they do not come with those multi-colored pepper strips; I merely added those for garnish and nutritional benefit in the days when I actually cared about eating a vegetable. Alright, listen, I’m not getting paid in free Lean Cuisines or anything, but these spring rolls are insanely good. They have a bit of a coconut zing to them, which I love. They, too, are only 5 Points Pluses for 3, and are another excellent snack/late night after bar option, or nice for lunch with a side of veg. I even served them to my intern a few weeks ago, and he agreed that they’re great. I highly recommend you pick them up next time you’re in the “Single Dinners” section of the frozen foods aisle.

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I know I’ve told you this before, but now that I am a famous food blogger, corporations are just clamoring for me to try their food.  I’ve always thought my opinions really mattered to the public social discourse, but it’s nice to have official confirmation.

I’m more than happy to accept gifts of food in exchange for a blog shout-out (hey, this is America), but I’m not the only big winner here. This time, a lucky reader will also prosper and feel what it feels like to get free food (it’s awesome). That’s right – Bertolli has offered to send one lucky reader 4 free coupons to try all the varieties of their new frozen soup line, PLUS a really lovely ladle from Crate & Barrel.

The winner will be chosen at random, and in order to be eligible for the giveaway, you must leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite kind of soup. The giveaway will close at 12 p.m. on Friday. Be sure to include a way for me to contact you.

Tonight I tried the Bertolli Tuscan Style Beef & Vegetable frozen meal soup. For some reason, the term “meal soup” is something I apparently cannot say enough. Meal soup – so literal!

Bertolli Tuscan Style Beef & Vegetables Meal Soup

Let’s get in the description: “Tender beef, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots and celery with bowtie pasta in a savory broth.” Sounds pretty good…but what about the nutritional information? I’m glad you asked – here it is!

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size ½ package (340g)
Servings per Container 2

Amount per Serving

  • Calories 360
  • Calories from Fat 180
  • Total Fat 20g
  • Sodium 1110mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 26g
  • Dietary Fiber 4g
  • Protein 17g

Oh…my.  A serving of this soup (soup!) is 9 points in the WW Points Plus program. If I’m going to spend 9 points on soup, it better be amazing! And a full meal. Meal soup. So addictive.

To its credit, this soup is very easy to prepare. Throw it in a saucepan with a cup of water, simmer, serve, feel like a culinary genius. Since it’s a meal soup for two, my roommate got to share in the spoils of my bloggership.

Bertolli Frozen Meal Soup

Bertolli Frozen Meal Soup

The verdict? We both thought it was good, but nothing spectacular. I liked that it had mushrooms and zucchini, two veggies that usually get skipped in canned soups. The beef was standard quality frozen meal beef – honestly, I prefer Dinty Moore beef to this. The soup itself was pretty salty – I didn’t mind, I just sucked down a few extra glasses of fine wine. Instead of eating this as a meal, I ate this as part of a meal, with a ham sandwich on the side. The soup was filling, but I’m slightly skeptical about calling it a meal. I think I may have been unsatisfied without the side of ham sandwich.

Would I buy this particular flavor again? Probably not. There are 3 additional varieties of Bertolli Premium Meal Soups for Two (Chicken and Rotini Pasta, Tomato Florentine & Tortellini with Chicken & Chicken Minestrone), and I’ll definitely be trying them all, because I have these coupons. For the price without coupons, I’d probably just pick up a couple cans of soup to eat for lunch or make my own.

Be sure to comment on this post with your favorite type of soup to be eligible for the giveaway!

Bertolli Soup

Disclaimer: Per FTC guidelines (and in case I didn’t make it obvious), I’d like to disclose that Bertolli sent me this soup to try for free.


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Oh, well, that’s quite a mouthful. In referring to this meal, I usually just thought of it as the giant lasagna that was taking up valuable real estate in my freezer from when I became a famous food blogger. I’d go to the grocery store, buy way too many frozen meals, take the lasagna out to make room for the others, slam the door shut and then silently curse when I saw this thing still sitting on the counter. But, still, I toiled on, always somehow making room for it, never seeming to find the perfect occasion to make this family-sized entrée.

Stouffer's Farmers' Harvest Meat Lasagna

Well, I finally found one. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve been absent from blogging for almost two months. I know, I know, it’s sad for everyone. I’ve had a lot going on lately – in particular, the trials of finding a new roommate. My previous roommateship sadly ended as quickly as it began, so I’ve been trying to find a suitable alternative. After posting an ad on the cesspool that is Craigslist, I received quite a few prospective roommate inquiries – from guys. Now, up until this point, I’d just never really thought about having a dude roommate, but with all of these guys wanting to shack up with me, I figured it might not be a bad idea. I chose one that seemed like he could string together full sentences, and made a time for him to see the place. Now ladies, it’s important to remember that when meeting strange men off Craigslist, you should employ the use of a “heavy” – a male friend to protect you from harm’s way. I chose my friend Trevor for this task, and we embarked on this journey together.

When the potential roommate arrived, I felt he posed no great risk to my life, so I briefed him on the place, gave him the grand tour, and then we settled in for a little potential roommate getting to know each other time. I offered the potential roommate and Trevor a drink, and before we all knew what was happening, we’d spent the greater part of the evening clearing out all of the vintage Miller Lites in the fridge.

Naturally when you spend a lot of time drinking a lot of old light beer, you get a little hungry – hungry to the point where you remember a family-sized lasagna sitting in the back of your freezer – one that can be microwaved, no less! After microwaving for the instructed time, it was scarfed down and declared scrumptious by all three of us. Even though our judgement may have been slightly skewed, it’s pretty hard to mess up lasagna, so I feel comfortable recommending this Stouffer’s lasagna to even the most sober diner.

I didn’t have much interest in the Points value of this lasagna at the time, and since the first time I’d be likely to buy it again would be to feed a group during the dead of winter while watching football, I’m going to continue to be disinterested in how it would affect my diet. PLUS, I’ve signed myself up for a 7 mile “race” (well, for me it’s more like a 7 mile “hope I don’t die”), so I can clearly eat anything I want!

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Lean Cuisine Thai Style Chicken

Today’s contender – Lean Cuisine’s Thai-Style Chicken, a dish of “roasted chicken tenderloins in a creamy thai-style sauce with rice.”

The stats: 260 calories, 4 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbs, 21 grams of protein and less than one gram of fiber. For those of you counting your Points Pluses, this will set you back 6 points.

In a sea of endless frozen meals, I find there are very few I’d write home about. Plus, why would I write home when my Mom could just read my blog (not that she does, unless I’m at home and forcing her to do it – hi, Mom!)? Anyway, the drudgery of eating frozen meals everyday at your desk is occasionally broken up by a few outstanding selections, and LC’s Thai Style Chicken ranks right up there in my frozen food hall of fame.

Now, I’ve eaten this meal a few times before, but just failed to blog about it, because I’m particularly awesome at eating things and forgetting to take pictures, or I’ll take the pictures and then I’ll never write about it. Whoops – although I am actually slightly upset about some of the recent Dining Away from the Desk posts you’re all missing out on because I sometimes forget that I’m a well-known, respected food blogger, and the people  I eat with don’t seem to remind me, either.

Back to the topic at hand – this meal is definitely one of my favorites, but I wouldn’t say it tastes incredibly “Thai” to me. The chicken is swimming in a delicious, creamy red pepper and coconut milk sauce, and the rice seems to have its own sauce as well, negating my need for spray butter. I still dumped a ton of salt on this because apparently 540 milligrams of sodium is NOT enough. I don’t know how you’re supposed to eat this, but there’s so much sauce that you could easily mix up your rice and chicken with the sauce. I prefer not to do that, because this Thai-style sauce is brilliant and must be savored apart from the rice. A little mixing is ok, but generally I try to implement my brother’s grade school rules for eating this meal – the food must not touch. I’ll take a bit of sauce and mix it with my bites of rice, and then I’ll take the chicken chunks and try to scoop up the remaining sauce with those. I’m sure this is not pretty to watch, but I dine in solitude, or at least I try. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people interrupt my lunch. It doesn’t take me long to wolf down a Lean Cuisine, people – come back in 5-7 minutes.

If you’re looking for a solid 6 point lunch option with a lot of flavor, I definitely recommend you try this. I think the only place I’ve seen it is Jewel, so if you’re a Dominick’s fan, you may be out of luck.

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