Friday, October 21, 2016

A to Z Food Challenge: Z

This is it everyone, the final A to Z challenge. 

I can't believe we are already at the letter Z. To be honest I was growing a little tiresome of this challenge around week 'L', but I wasn't going to back down. As for future Friday's, I think I'm going to do "Food Friday's", either showcasing food at a restaurant with review, sharing a recipe with you guys, shouting out a food blogger and a recipe of theirs, or just doing a food haul for you all. Regardless, I really want to keep Friday's for food. That isn't to say I won't be sharing food on other day's of the week, but Friday's just sound like a really good food day. 

I'm not big on setting specific day's for specific categories, as I feel it hinders how I work, but it's made me excited to implement one set day for something fun about food to share. So for now, that's what we are sticking too. 

Now that that's out of the way, let's get into our final letter, 'Z'. 

This wasn't necessarily a difficult letter and I initially intended on making a recipe with Zucchini, but after browsing through Trader Joe's on a recent shopping trip, I saw this little dish called "Baked Ziti". For those of you who don't know, ziti is a pasta that looks like tiny pool noodles. 

Personally I don't like Trader Joe's frozen pasta dishes - they aren't all bad, just not my preference - but I was interested in this one, because of the "guilt free" statement. I know that we don't really want to be eating our weight in pasta, but it's just so darn good. Mind you there are ways to cut down the "unhealthy" factor when eating pasta, but sometimes you're just too tired to think and need something quick to make. So for that alone, I knew I had to try it for only $2.29. 

It is for the most part simple to whip up. Simply choose microwave or traditional over - I chose the oven - and warm up using the directions provided on the back. Withing about 20-25 minutes (again, using the oven) you'll be given a smaller sized "TV dinner". The portions are fair for one person - it would not fill me up, but the average might be just fine - but I wouldn't separate this for more than just yourself. Perhaps if you had a side of chicken and a nice salad, you'd be able to share. I think the portions would make for a nice small lunch as well. 

My son and I both decided to do a quick taste test. While it wasn't bad in any sense, it wasn't necessarily tasty either. In fact, it was a little bland. 

Have you ever drained your pasta, accidentally leaving a little too much water in the bottom of your pot, then pour the pasta sauce into it, giving you a really water downed sauce and hardly any flavor? That's what this was like. 

My son didn't hate it, but he even asked why I didn't put enough sauce on it. I had to explain to him that it came like that. Also, the box shows cheese and when I first removed the clear plastic wrap, I noticed the cheese there. Somehow when we mixed it, the cheese disappeared. There wasn't a single trace of delicious cheese in the entire mix. Not going to lie, it broke my heart a little. 

After another bite we quickly decided to add this new pasta sauce we found at Trader Joe's called "Autumnal Harvest". Oh my goodness you guys, it's freaking amazing. If you were on my Instagram earlier, you would've seen this, but I'm telling you all right now, it's delicious. This sauce has pumpkin and butternut squash, with an extremely creamy and rich consistency. It's not sweet and goes perfectly on any pasta or chicken (that's all we've tried it with so far). My son devours anything with this sauce like there's no tomorrow. Seeing as how it's a new love of ours, we covered this sad pasta tv dinner with this sauce, and revamped the entire thing. 

Will I buy this pasta again? No. In the time it took me to warm up the frozen dish in the oven (obviously it will be faster in a microwave), I could've simply boiled some regular pasta and poured any of Trader Joe's amazing sauces. In fact, it would've been cheaper to do that AND we would've had a bigger quantity. As for the cheese, well Trader Joe's has an abundance of beautiful cheeses to suit anything you're craving. For us, we just ate the pasta with the Autumnal Sauce (really I gave the rest to my son, because he loves that sauce). 

If you just simply don't have time to boil pasta, this may be the best route for you, if you have a microwave. Like at the office or when you barely have enough time to eat, after feeding everyone else. For the price, quantity, and flavor, I wouldn't recommend it at all. If you like subtle flavor and more of a "light sauce on your pasta" type of person, this is the dish for you! 

There you go guys! The last challenge completed. I really didn't hate this "challenge", but I think that's because I really used this opportunity to try new things from Trader Joe's. For the future, I do plan on sharing more recipes - don't worry, I'll still be sharing Trader Joe's items - but for now I bid you ado. 

Have a wonderful weekend and please stay safe everyone. So many accidents and deaths have been on the news, and I don't want anything happening to you guys. If you drink, call a cab, a friend, or one of those car apps. If you don't feel comfortable in a situation, get out of it. If you feel alone, I'm here. I love you guys and I'm sending each and every one of you a big ol' bear hug. 

Keep on rockin' Jedi's and I'll see you Monday!!!

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