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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Archer Farms Candy Cane Coffee

Let me start this off by saying I'm not really a coffee person. I'm highly addicted to caffeine, but I generally prefer to take it in the form of energy drinks or something cold and sweet. However, I've reviewed some of Archer Farms bottled lattes on this blog: some good, some not-so-good, in my opinion. And as far as actual ground coffees, I've taken looks at Cinnamon Vanilla Nut, and another seasonal favorite—Pumpkin Spice. So let's check out this candy cane concoction, shall we?

It's minty, that's for sure. Pepperminty. Which must be a word, if you ask me. I don't need a dictionary to give me permission to use it.

It's a light roast, so it's not very bitter. I didn't need a lot of milk and sugar in this brew. It's mild enough for me.

I felt like after drinking it my breath wasn't as bad as it normally is after drinking coffee. It's like a weird combination of sipping java and chewing breath-freshening gum at the same time.

In summary, this is one of the few hot coffees I've had that I would even consider having on a regular basis. If you're into candy canes, peppermint, or just mint in general, this is a fun, festive, seasonal brew that might be a nice break from your normal everyday roast.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.
Check out another review of this same item.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Archer Farms Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix

Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. I love me some pumpkin. But the main reason I review pumpkin-flavored stuff this time of year is 'cuz 'Muricans got a pumpkin jones!

I'm all about other season-appropriate items like cider and apple cinnamon flavored desserts, maybe even more than pumpkin stuff. But there just isn't enough of it out there. Or maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Either way, I'm a happy camper when it comes to fall foods.

Sonia and I actually live much farther away from Target now than we used to. We actually have to cross the Delaware River and pay a $5 toll just to go to Target these days...unless we want to drive for almost an hour. So we have to be very choosy when it comes to what items we'll be picking up and reviewing. Not that this blog has been uber-popular, particularly over the past year, but we're still getting a few hundred views a day. So I know somebody's reading. And if you folks who are stumbling on this page care to comment, I'd be happy to look for any particular products that you're curious about—if I can find them.

But anyway, I digress. On to the review. These pancakes are really tasty. They're not such a far cry from regular pancakes. Upon perusing the ingredients list, you have to go pretty far down to actually see anything pumpkin or pumpkin-spice related. And the first pumpkinesque things you see are "dried pumpkin flakes." That sounds like something crunchy. And I'm not saying they actually are crunchy...but weirdly enough, there were little crispy pieces on my pancakes. Now, Sonia claims that the super-crispy elements were just due to her excessive use of butter in the pan when we made them. But I almost want to say that the pumpkin flakes added a hint of crispity-crunchitiness to the product, not unlike the minuscule snap one felt while chewing that Cinn-a-burst gum with "flavor crystals," except pumpkin-flavored and way more appetizing than that probably sounds.

But other than that, they're only subtly pumpkinny. Spice-wise, Sonia and I felt that nutmeg was the dominant flavor, whereas with most pumpkin spice products, cinnamon is usually a bit more noticeable. We had them with maple syrup, and they were scrumptious. If you're looking for pumpkin-flavored stuff that isn't overly pumpkintastic, this product is a winner.

I give it 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Ground Coffee

Ah, it's fall! And the delicious smell of pumpkin spices fills the air once again. This has become one of my favorite times of the year—in large part because of all the pumpkin-flavored things everywhere. I'm definitely a fan of the pumpkin spice phenomenon, but my wife, Sonia, is an even bigger pumpkin aficionado. No, she's not a Basic White Girl, but she does have some BWG tendencies.

This Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice coffee is one of them. But I must admit, it's pretty tasty. We still haven't had much luck finding pumpkin stuff in our local Targets—just some Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal and some Pumpkin Salsa, of all things, both of which are decent but not stellar.

I'd rank this coffee in front of all AF pumpkin stuff at this point. It's a really mild coffee, light roast, and it has a great blend of subtle pumpkin pie type spices. It's not at all bitter. For some reason, coffee always tastes better to me when made in a French press. So that's how we made ours. A touch of cream and sugar certainly helps with this brew, but you don't really need much, which is good.

Sonia raves about this coffee. She's an even bigger fan than I am. And as it stands, I'm gonna give it 9 out of 10 stars on my deliciousness scale. As I've mentioned before, I am not a coffee connoisseur, so take my opinion with a grain of salt—but if you want my bottom line as an amateur: as far as mild coffees with pumpkin spices go, this one's among the first I'd check out.

This coffee gets 9 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Simply Balanced Classic Muesli Cereal

When I was growing up, I remember seeing a bunch of commercials for some cereal called "Mueslix," where they actually pronounced the "x." I'm certain my parents tried it at some point and gave me a spoonful to taste, but I undoubtedly went right back to my Nintendo Cereal or whatever other tooth-rotting sugary thing I was eating.

Not sure if it was just my immature taste-buds or whether this Target brand stuff is just a lot better than Kellogg's offering in the 1980's, but once I started eating this cereal, I polished off the bowl in no time flat. It's pretty tasty, with a good balance of grains, nuts, and fruit. It's filling, and it's not that bad for you.

Since we purchased this little bag of muesli, my wife has gone on a crazy muesli kick, purchasing not only two more bags of this product, but several other non-Target brands as well. She pronounces it funny, too. Like "mues-lie." Instead of "mues-lee." She's so funny.

So far, I think this version reigns supreme in our household. There are a couple of flavor variations at our local Target. So stay tuned for more reviews in the near future. If you're interested in checking out the nutrition info for this cereal, just click this link.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Archer Farms White Corn Tortilla Chips

What can be said about plain tortilla chips? Not a whole lot, I guess. But recently, I've been noticing all the subtle differences among regular yellow tortilla chips, blue corn tortilla chips, and these white ones.

The blue ones, like these Archer Farms chips, seem the heartiest (or is it hardiest) of all. Especially when they have flax seeds in them. Then I think yellow falls somewhere in the middle in terms of robustness and flavor. And most delicate of all are these white chips.

Now, I could insert some comical metaphor about how each of the aforementioned varieties of chips parallels a different skin color or race of people, but that would undoubtedly offend someone thoroughly, so I'll listen to my better judgment for once and steer clear of such a folly.

Now back to the food. As I was saying, the white chips are the most like crackers. When you go with white, you're playing it safe. But you're also more likely to get bored. Oh look. Jeez. There I've gone ahead and done what I said I wouldn't do. Why do I digress so incessantly?

Ahem...these chips went very well with the Mango Peach Salsa. They certainly didn't challenge the delicious flavor of the salsa, but they enhanced it slightly with their delicate crunchiness and saltiness. They would also pair up wonderfully with AF's Summer Fruits Salsa.

You can expect the same quality from Archer Farms brand as you would from another national brand name. And these chips are organic. You can't beat an organic snack for $3.

I give these chips 7 out of 10 stars.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Archer Farms Eggplant Parmigiana Pizza

I'm always amazed at how nasty eggplant looks, but how distinctly delicious it tastes. There's no other vegetable like it. It's highly underrated.

Coincidentally, my wife brought home a couple of slices of eggplant pizza from a function she had attended in Center City Philadelphia just the night before we wound up cooking this Archer Farms pizza.

That pizza from Center City originated from an award-winning hole-in-the-wall Italian place called Gianfranco's. It was great. We reheated it in the oven to preserve the freshness, and I was pleasantly surprised.

And I was even more surprised when the following day, we heated this pizza in the oven and discovered that it was even better! This is definitely one of the best Archer Farms pizzas I've tried for this blog. Check out my reviews of the spinach and goat cheese pizza and the Mediterranean arugula pizza. I also took a look at the Genoa salami pizza.

This Italian treat flaunted big bites of eggplant cooked to perfection, parmesan cheese, and tiny pieces of onion that gave the whole thing a great balanced flavor. The texture was similar to other Archer Farms pizzas, and they're always just a tad too chewy in my opinion. But other than that, I can't complain.

If you're a fan of eggplant or open to new things, please give this pizza a try. It's well worth the money. If you hate eggplant, well, I guess you can always pick it off of the product. This is a great-tasting artisan-style pizza at a reasonable price. I highly recommend it.

I'm going to give this 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Archer Farms Coconut Macaroon Granola

I'm glad Target spells "macaroon" the American way. When I've reviewed "macarons," it just feels wrong each time I type the word. Not only did Archer Farms get the spelling right, but they got the taste right, too. There's definitely a coconutty sweetness about this cereal, and maybe even a hint of macaroonishness as well.

Of all the exotic cereals I've tried from AF, I think this one might take the cake, er...take the macaroon? I've reviewed eight of them now, I think. To find them all, just click on the "Breakfast" label in the side bar and scroll down through the reviews or just type "cereal" in the search bar near the top of the page.

There are actual bits of coconut in this cereal, and it's perfectly sweet. Nice and dessert-ish, but not over-the-top, rot-your-teeth-out, death-wish kind of sweet. You definitely won't have to add any extra sugar, but you won't feel sick after eating it, either.

It's a "drink-the-sugary-milk-out-of-the-bowl" sort of experience, but somehow there's a sophisticated twist. I'm thinking this stuff would be a hit with adults or kids. It's a definite winner. And if you're new to this blog and you think I'm some kind of undercover Target employee or Archer Farms marketing guru, just read my review of the Ribs Chips or the Bacon Carbonara Lunch Bowl. Maybe I'm just biased towards cereal. I've always loved cereal. Lots of great memories waking up on a Saturday morning and watching Smurfs with a great big bowl of some sweet milk and grains...

I give this cereal 9 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Archer Farms Cocoa Vanilla Granola

The name of this product says it all: it's granola, and it has big chunks of cocoa...stuff. I'm not sure what the cocoa stuff is made of, other than cocoa, but I must admit, it's fairly tasty.

The granola worked well as a breakfast cereal, but I was happy to eat it dry, right out of the box, too. In the grand scheme of things, this is one of the better cereals I've tried from Archer Farms, even though some sound a lot fancier than this one.
It's sweet, but not excessively so, and the cocoa and vanilla are well-balanced. The base is a vanilla granola-type flavor, with little bursts of rich cocoa in every other bite. The cocoa flavors are in the direction of Cocoa Pebbles cereal, but maybe not quite so sugary. This cereal, like most granolas, doesn't get super soggy even after several minutes in milk, but it remains crunchy to the last bite.

If you're interested in seeing a close-up photo of the product, there are some pics of it here, as we used it as the base for a certain fictitious dog food fit for human consumption on another blog. Be mindful, there are other foods mixed in with it in these pics. This cereal is just the tan granola and small dark brown chunks.

All in all, I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Archer Farms Shredded Beef Mini Tamales

I'm not a native Philly guy, but I've lived here long enough to realize that when Philadelphians see "Philly Cheesesteaks" being sold in other cities, they know that 95% of the time, what's being passed off as the genuine article is really an abomination—a sad excuse for the real thing.

Latinos probably feel the same way when they see pre-packaged frozen tamales being sold by a place like Target.

Strangely enough, our friends in Los Angeles shipped my wife a package of tamales from La Mascota Bakery for her birthday, just a few days after I purchased these. The tamales from L.A. were cold and well-preserved on their nearly 3,000 mile journey. And MAN, were they ever good. (Sonia was kind enough to share). Authentic. Great for us, but the odds were stacked against these Target tamales from the beginning.

But my wife, who is Mexican-American, and I were both fairly impressed with Target's offering. I can't lie and tell you they were just as good as the ones from La Mascota, but Archer Farms put forth a valiant effort.

They are indeed "mini tamales," much smaller than any I've had before. It's good if you don't want to have too much tamale at one time, but it's also inconvenient to unwrap each little item not only from its plastic sleeve, but from its corn husk wrapper as well.

Both the masa and the filling were a decent approximation of a fresh, authentic tamale. Now, I'm not saying they were exactly like the real thing. Even I could tell the difference between these frozen dealies and the genuine article in a blindfolded taste test. But, I mean, the Target version was like 85% of the way there. And that's not too shabby at all. Even the lovely Sonia was pleasantly surprised. And that should say something.

I give these tamales 7 out of 10 stars.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Archer Farms Honey Dijon Potato Chips

Truth be told, the bag in the pic to the left is just about empty. I blew air into it and resealed it quickly to make it look full-ish. Did I fool you? I simply forgot to take a picture before I ate most of the bag. Silly me.

These chips are a pretty decent approximation of Kettle Chips' Honey Dijon flavor. I've always been a huge fan of the Kettle Chips version. They're quite possibly my favorite potato chips of all time. Archer Farms' offering isn't too far behind.

But there's still something about the Kettle Chips that makes them a little better. It's at least partially the texture. There's just something about the crispness of those chips that I can't put my finger on. Both chips are crunchy and get plenty of sticky yellow mess all over your fingers, but the Kettle
Chips are just a bit more syrupy. There's like an actual glaze of honey and mustard or something. The Archer Farms chips were coated and glazed as well, but perhaps with a bit less of the honey mustard.

But at $2.99 a bag, I'm not complaining. The differences between the two types of chips are subtle and hardly noticeable. Plus, Archer Farms version has the resealable bag, just in case you aren't gluttonous enough to eat the whole thing in one sitting. You'll be tempted to, but if I can resist the urge, I'm sure you can, too. My wife liked these as well. If you're a fan of the Kettle Chips, AF brand is well worth a purchase, IMHO.

I think this product is worthy of 9 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Simply Balanced Cajun-Style Rice & Beans Lunch Bowl

This is the first lunch bowl I've reviewed that's got the new Simply Balanced packaging going on. I guess that's because it's low-ish in calories and fat but high in fiber.

I think my favorite lunch bowl is still the Sesame Teriyaki one. It had by far the best taste of all, but this one might be a close second. I was skeptical of it at first, mainly because "rice and beans" don't sound as exotic as Kung Pao Noodles or Bacon Carbonara, and both of those turned out to be disappointing. With 430mg of sodium, I'm not sure if you can call this health food, but one gram of fat ain't bad if you're looking to lose some weight.

The cajun spice was fine. Nothing to complain about. It was mildly hot. Nothing earth-shattering here, but not bad for a $2.49 lunch bowl. The product was a bit soupy after adding water right up to the fill line. When I first opened the packaging, the bean and rice packet looked very small and almost empty, but everything plumped up in the hot water. The serving size still appeared diminutive, but after I ate it, I felt plenty full...and I'm a gluttonous eating machine. Must have been all that dietary fiber and salt.

Overall, this product is worthy of 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Archer Farms Cinnamon Vanilla Nut Coffee

At the beginning of every coffee review I do, I feel the need to insert a disclaimer that I'm not much of a coffee expert, because I'm not. I've never been "a coffee guy." But I'm hoping there's some value in my opinion since I've tried and shared my thoughts about a number of Archer Farms coffee products, including the Vanilla Caramel Latte and Candy Cane Coffee. Hopefully Target won't discontinue all of their coffees the way they did their yogurt line after I unofficially crowned myself the world's leading expert on Archer Farms yogurts. (For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, I use that lofty title in the MOST tongue-in-cheek manner possible).

There was just a bit more bitterness in this coffee than I would have liked. But
I always want my coffee to taste like candy, especially when it has a dessert-like name like this one does. There are subtle hints of cinnamon and vanilla, and perhaps a smidge more than a hint of nuttiness. It's a light roast, so the overall flavor is fairly mild.

Another way I measure the success of a coffee is how much sugar and cream I have to put in it to make it palatable to my kid-like tongue. This flavor required very little of both, and thus, I'll go ahead and declare it a success in that department. My wife enjoyed it, too.

So I'll give it 7 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Archer Farms Spicy Korean-Style Barbecue Chips

These are very similar to the previously-reviewed Sweet & Spicy Chips. There's just a very subtle difference between the two sets of seasonings. I suppose these do taste more...Asian than the Sweet & Spicy dealies, although these could also be described as "spicy and sweet."

These chips have rice flour and a couple of soy-based ingredients, which I guess pushes them in the direction of a Korean BBQ flavor. They certainly don't taste like freshly-seared bulgogi or ribs, but they're not bad for what they are. They flaunt a similar texture to the aforementioned Sweet and Spicy Chips or even the Garden Vegetable Ranch kettle-style chips. They're extremely crispy.

I think if you're looking for a spicy kettle chip, the Sriracha variety is the way to go. But if you want something with less heat, but that still has some kick and a nice bit of tang, these are a viable alternative. Anything's better than the Rib Chips, which I believe, thankfully, have been discontinued. Since those awful things, I haven't been terribly disappointed with any Archer Farms offerings in the chip department. You really can't go wrong in that aisle these days.

Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or have anything to add! Also let me know what to review next! Anything expensive you've seen there in your Target's freezer that you've been scared to try? Let me know! Holla' at me, my fellow Archer Farms fans!

I give these chips 7 out of 10 stars.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Archer Farms Corn, Black Bean & Roasted Pepper Salsa

I'd call this salsa "medium-mild" rather than "medium," but then I am a spice-lover. And I had better be, because my wife's family is from Mexico. And they like it SPICY.

Not just for the sake of the heat, but for the extra flavor. And as far as spice-related flavor goes, that's not really this product's strong suit. This product's strength lies in its true chunkiness. It has whole corn kernels galore, whole black beans, and lots of diced tomatoes, chiles, and peppers. I have tasted more flavorful corn and bean salsas, but the difference was probably due more to the spiciness of the liquid than the chunks of food within it.

I mentioned in my last review that the Blue Corn and Flax Seed Tortilla Chips kind of overshadowed this salsa. I'll stand by that claim, but I'd like to add that with a slightly more docile chip, such as the blue corn tortilla chips sans the flax seeds, this salsa does what it's supposed to do a bit better. It adds complexity, body, and flavor to an otherwise boring snack.

I only saw the "medium" variety of this salsa in the aisle, but next time, I'll have to try one of the "hot" ones. Both to test my limits and to see if it's actually hot. (If I can handle it without my eyes watering a little, then it's not really that hot).

Will I buy this product again? Probably. I know from experience that Archer Farms has some decent sweet salsas (mango, pineapple, etc) so I'll probably try them again to refresh my memory. And I've got to see how hot their hot stuff can really get. After I've completed those tasks, I might return to this truly chunky salsa. It's salsa that eats like cold soup that eats like a meal. That's me riffing off of Campbell's Chunky slogan. And they wonder why I've never been paid well as a copywriter.

"Archer Farms salsas: Salsa that eats like cold soup that eats like a meal."

It's good enough for 8 out of 10 stars.

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