Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clancy's Cheese Dip - A Review

Having leftover chili encouraged us to prepare chili dogs the following Sunday.  The family is big on chili cheese dogs and also adding some chili on top of fries. I made a quick trip to Aldi for the hot dogs, fries and I did manage to find they carried cheese sauce. The cheese dip is located next to the display of all the Clancy label tortilla chips.

The cheese dip is packaged in typical clear cheese sauce jar much like the Tostitos jar of sauce.  This dip is sold next to all the other Clancy products (potato chips, cheese curls, tortilla chips, nacho chips, etc).
The cost of the fifteen ounce size jar is only $1.99. The name brand sauce such as Velveeta Cheese toppers cost on average about $3.15 and are only 12 ounces (all four pouches combined). The Tostitos cheeses sold at the neighborhood Meijer are also priced around three dollars.

There is not much effort involved when it comes to heating up this product. Simply empty contents into microwave safe bowl and cover. Heat on high for three minutes, but interrupt the cooking time every thirty to forty seconds to stir product. (While microwaves are convenient, these appliances cook food very unevenly).  I placed a paper towel over the top of the microwave dish to contain cheese explosions all over my microwave.

The color and consistency of this sauce resembles everything you would expect when seeing cheese sauce covering up a chili dog, French fries, nachos, or a baked potato with broccoli. The presentation of the chili dog and fries really looked legit with this Clancy sauce. Everything seemed to go swimmingly until that first bite. The first chomp on the chili dog revealed the usually delicious dog and chili flavor only to be accompanied by the tone of the chalky, salty and flavorless cheese sauce.  Perhaps my expectations were too great. I understand most of these commercially made cheese sauces are water and oil based and void of real cheese, but I really expected some sort of cheese flavoring to come out and announce itself.   That certainly did not happen.

Overall Result

I will not buy the Clancy’s cheese dip again. I may try the nacho version just to see if there is a defined flavor. I rate a poor buy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review of Meijer Classic Alfredo Sauce

Our weekly dinners often consist of at least two meals that include pasta. Pasta is a good food budget stretcher and it is an easy sell with kids. Last Sunday, I had a desire for fettucine alfredo. Typically we consume our pasta buried in a marinara or other tomato based sauce. Lately, I have been craving a cheesy white alfredo topping. Meijer carries quite a few of their own label alfredo sauces (Classic, Four Cheese, and Roasted Garlic). I chose the Meijer classic alfredo.

The alfredo sauce is packaged in typical Ragu or Classico style jar.  The jars are sold in the dry good section next to the pasta.

The cost of the fifteen ounce size jar was $2.29. The name brand sauces run between ten to fifty cents higher than Meijer labels.

There is not much effort to preparing the sauce. Simply empty the jar contents into saucepan and heat up until hot enough to serve over pasta. It process of cooking the pasta took much longer than heating up the sauce.

I was pleased with the quantity of sauce in proportion to the pound of fettucine I served. There was plenty of sauce to coat all the pasta evenly. The sauce was not as thick as I am accustomed to seeing with heavier alfredo sauces in restaurants or even sold in the refrigerated sections of stores. The taste of this alfredo sauce was a disappointment. There seemed to be something definitely missing in this sauce. Perhaps the sauce needed a more pronounced parmesan flavor or a hint of garlic. When I think of delicious alfredo sauce, I think of a good dose of cheese flavor in every bite. That was not the case with this sauce.

Overall Result
I don’t see myself purchasing this sauce again. I will either spend a little more and purchase the heavier refrigerated instant alfredo sauces or test the Meijer four cheese or garlic option, or even go with the brand name labels.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review of Oscar Mayer Bun-Length Angus Beef Franks

When it comes to buying hotdogs, I only go all beef and I usually pick from my three go to brands. These hot dog picks include the Vienna Beef label, the Ball Park Angus, and the Aldi Parkview All Beef Vienna Hot dog (See past review on the Aldi Parkview).
Well my last trip to Meijer, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and try the Oscar Mayer Angus franks. They were on sale for $2.69 for the package of eight. The deal seemed pleasing especially since the Vienna was selling for over five dollars and the Ball Park were just below that amount.


The bun length franks are skinny and sold eight to the package (as with any package of hot dogs). The color of the franks is a deep red akin to the Vienna or Ball park dogs. I can’t stand the flavor or color of the hybrid hot dog (Pork, chicken, and turkey) that carry a pale tone and devoid of taste and a mushy texture.

The package instructions recommend cooking franks in a saucepan of boiling water for seven minutes. Not me, I steam them for about eight to ten minutes in a covered saucepan of shallow water. I have a little metal container contraption that rests above the boiling water to hold the franks so they are cooking entirely in this controlled steam bath environment. That is the only way I heat hot dogs.

First bite reveals a decent Vienna like casing snap. The frank definitely taste all beef (as there is no filler). Then this frank’s promising early returns go awry. The finishing flavor has some sort of smoky flavor one would expect with a sausage or dehydrated beef stick. It isn’t overwhelming but enough to dash any hopes of considering this Oscar Mayer substitute worthy as a Vienna alternate.

The price of this package of franks was on sale for $2.69 and I believe the regular price hovered around the four dollar mark.

Overall Result

I would rank these franks as mediocre at best. I would probably only buy these again if I am making a bunch of chili dogs for a football Sunday get together as that smoky taste would likely get buried in my   spicy chili.

Friday, October 14, 2016

October 2016 Lowest Pumpkin Prices in Chicago suburbs

Every year I typically wait until two weeks prior to Halloween to pick out a good size pumpkin to carve.  I hold off purchasing pumpkins too early as I do not want to freely feed my offering up to the local squirrels. I also avoid early purchasing so I can patiently wait it out and test the volatile “pumpkin market” in pursuit of the lowest price possible. The September and October typical dollar range for Chicago area pumpkin prices ranges anywhere from three to ten dollars per pumpkin. The three to four dollar range is considered sales prices offered up at big box stores; and the higher end pricing is what one will encounter at the local pumpkin patches and farms in the area.  As we are at the mid-point of October 2016, I did some research to reveal those exceptionally low prices I found in the western suburbs of Chicago. Most big box stores during periods when there are no sales will list around the five dollar mark.

Aldi Carving Pumpkins ($2.49) this was the price listed in the flyer this week (October 12). I am not sure how long this sale price will last. I noticed the large box of pumpkins in the store last week, though the stock was severely depleted. This store will offer the best prices, but the sizes are medium at best for carving and the supply is not as plentiful as the other stores (Meijer, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc).

Meijer Pumpkins (Currently $3.99) this week, Meijer is pricing their carving pumpkins for just under $4.00 a piece! That is a good price considering they have pumpkin sizes ranging from medium to very large. The good news is this retailer carries plenty of pumpkins in stock in their numerous cardboard containers at the entrance to the store. Just be wary that this lower price may entice a heavy run on pumpkins this weekend.

Wal-Mart ($3.88) the price is a tad lower than Meijer. I am almost convinced Wal-Mart observes the competitors closely and knocks the price down a few cents just to claim they are the lowest.  Aldi still holds the” lowest price in the land” claim, though Wal-Mart wins out due to greater supply and offers larger sized pumpkins for carving still at this $3.88 price.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review of Extra Large Mama Cozzi’s Mega Meat Pizza

This was not my first take and bake pizza review,  nor will it be my last. First of all, I have tried Mama Cozzi brand pizza’s before and this will be my first review of the Mega Meat variety.  We typically purchase the mama cozy four cheese pizza and improvise adding our own additional  toppings such as bacon, sliced mushrooms, garlic, etc. As much  of my Sunday got away from due to chores, I was left with few options  for dinner  so I went to Aldi to pick up a take and bake. The “Cheese only” pizzas were picked clean leaving only the Mega Meat and the Supreme options. I chose the all meat since my kids usually like pepperoni  and  sausage.

This extra large 16 inch pizza is a thin crust. The meat toppings include Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, beef pizza topping and bacon. I am not sure what the “beef pizza topping” really is, but I am assuming it is ground beef.Aside from the meat, there appears to be plenty of sauce and cheese.

The preparation is no more difficult than preheating oven and baking on center rack for 15 minutes.
The pizza is thin crust and I would say to expect to feed a family of five will require a second pizza if it is a hungry group. A smaller group will get by with this pizza. Next time I will buy a second pizza. (I did serve salad with this pizza which helped satisfy everyone’s hunger).

At $5.99 for this 16 inch pizza, I will rate this Aldi Mama Cozzi mega meat pizza a strong buy. I am still preferential to the all cheese variety, but this one works too.