Mission Taco Joint (Delmar Loop)

One ‘America’s Favorite Streets’ has a new addition to it’s ever evolving food landscape.  Mission Taco Joint has joined the crowd in the Loop and is bringing with it a similar twist on traditional Mexi-Cali fare that its sister restaurants Milagro and Tortillaria have been serving up in their respective locations.  You’re not going to find long extensive book-like menus here and with their focus on bringing street food to the table, you shouldn’t expect it.  There’s not a hard taco or quesadilla in site.  The repetitive Mexican flavored soundtracks have been nixed, and you’ll never have to worry about someone placing a sombrero on your head singing you Feliz Cuplianos for your birthday.  Their mission:  to make you think differently about Mexican food and forget that places like El Maguey ever existed.

When you walk up to Mission, you’ll be greeted by a crowd of diners waiting for their seats to open up, casually standing in a open area in front of the bar with a few tall tables pressed against the wall.  This is a no reservations type joint, so if you’re looking to be sat immediately, good luck.  The decor isn’t anything too fancy, so there’s not a lot to distract you during your wait.  It’s a half baked design that teeters on the edge of a modern style beach shack, dulled down by blank walls that lack character .  The restaurant is littered with staff that are dressed like mini Guy-Fieris sporting branded patches, giving off the scent of a corporate restaurant.  Bartenders scurry about, hastily mixing margaritas in shakers with an entertaining moraca-like rhythm, livening the place up.  After a few short moments of soaking this all up (and it really is a short wait), you’ll be shuffled through the ranks of hungry customers and seated where the real show begins.

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Roasted Duck Taco


If you were expecting traditional Mexican, you’ll see hints of that on the menu.  However, much of the americanized dishes have been left off, leaving you with a small two-sided list of  selections that is very reminiscent of a street vendor’s menu.  Of course, tacos are the highlight, but there are a few other staples like tortas, burritos, and taquitos.  In lieu of a tequila heavy bar, the agave liquor has been replaced with a decent draught selection that any beer snob would be pleased with.

On my visits, I started off with the chips and salsa. guacamole and crab taquitos.  The chips and salsa is served as two salsa flavors:  a traditional style and a rotating ‘Salsa of the Day’.  The salsa I was treated on that day was a satisfying ancho chili blend that was equally as smoky as it was spicy.  The taquitos were magnificent, and I could have easily made a meal just out of those with the chunks of sweet crab complementing the crunchy tortillas.

Entrees were up next, and I went with every flavor of taco they offered with the exception of the MOFU and chicken (because those just sound boring) and the Ahogada torta (pulled pork).  The tacos are served on a futuristic taco holder that allows all the ingredients to rest in the housemade tortillas ready to be consumed.  For the most part, they were all delicious and beautifully crafted.  They ranged from super traditional to incredibly inspired with the very traditional nopal (cactus) to the roasted duck.  I liked the duck taco so much that it was a part of all of my visits and each time it sang the same beautiful lyrics on to my palate.  It may have been a bad idea to have tried the duck taco before diving into the torta, as it was rather unremarkable.

Ahogada Taco

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Overall it’s a pretty inexpensive meal, offering up family and foodie friendly dishes.  Tourists and natives alike have another solid food adventure awaiting them in the Loop.   I only had a small sample size, and even though it’s a compact menu, I have a mission to come back for more.

Linguine with Pesto and Tomatoes (Trader Joe’s)

Making dry pasta isn’t at all difficult, and neither is whipping up some pesto to go along with it.  Who am  I kidding.  Getting out a pot and boiling water can be a little labor intensive.  You gotta add a little salt and pour in some olive oil before hand.  Can’t forget that.  Plus, pesto can be a constant reminder of why you never cook.  Throwing all of that basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil in a food processor and hitting a button is annoying.  On the serious side, cleaning that food processor is a pain in the ass.  So, I completely understand why some of these frozen pasta dishes are gaining in popularity.  It cuts out the prep time and all you lose is the delicious fresh nature of ripe tomatoes, tasty pesto, and perfectly cooked pasta.  But, you’re probably just hungry for pasta and fortunately Trader Joe’s has just the product for you.  Here’s what I thought:
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Snagged from the frozen section of Trader Joe’s was my newest product to review.  It’s a linguine with tomatoes and pesto.  My red flag was already raised in the form of frozen tomatoes.  There’s nothing worse than frozen tomatoes.  They lose pretty much all of their flavor and lack that acidic bite that it normally adds to any dish.  For curiosity sake, I decided that I would give this a test drive to see if TJ’s had discovered how to make those tomato troubles disappear and still make an enjoyable dish.

I slapped a large pan onto the stove and placed it on medium heat.  The required amount of water was added to the pan and the contents of the bag unloaded on top of it.  I placed the lid on the pan and allowed it to cook for the allotted time.  I checked the pan and went to stir just to realize that my pasta was still in frozen knots and hardly any of it was cooked at imageall.  A few more moments passed and it was finally starting to breakdown, allowing me to stir it all together.  Finally, everything was cooked through and I unloaded the pasta from the pan and into my pasta dish.

It smelled pretty good as you could get hints of tomato through the garlic and basil of the pesto.  I grabbed my fork and gave it a swirl into the deep dish of steaming pasta.  With a little bit everything loaded into one bite, I eyed those tomatoes one more time.  They looked flat and mushy and my reservations about them were about to be imagerealized.  Already set for some disappointment, I opened my mouth and began to chew.  The pasta was a little overcooked (might have been on my end), the pesto was incredibly bland, and the tomatoes did everything that I expected them to.

I make it sound awful, but really it’s because I’m a bit of a snob and all of these ingredients are things that deserve to be enjoyed fresh.  This wasn’t the best dish to be recreated in the frozen section.  I totally understand the need for saving a few moments or even not having the prowess to make a dish like this, but I’d look in another direction.  This just doesn’t do it for me, and it shouldn’t FORKing be acceptable for you.

Asian Appetizers (ALDI)

IMG_20130212_202846Lately, I find myself lingering in the frozen aisle with cart full of way too many frozen dishes.  It’s getting to a point where room is sparse in my freezer and I am becoming somewhat of a hoarder as frozen foods get stuffed into the depths, forgotten and lost.  Realizing that this was an issue, I’ve tried to show some restraint at the grocery store, steering clear of the frozen aisle.  However, like an addict, I found myself in the midst of the frozen foods, just to peek and see if there was anything new.  Per usual, there was and like a moth to light, I snatched a couple of new Asian appetizers.  Before I knew it, I was at home using again.  Here’s how they were:

At home with my blackout fading, I pulled the two frozen Asian appetizers from the bag and opened the door to a freezer I knew to be already packed with food.  There wasn’t any room, so I had to make a choice to cook something that night to open up some space.  I was curious to see how these apps of crab rangoon and pork potstickers were going to stack up to their cookie cutter Chinese restaurant counter parts, and decided to just forego making room in the fridge.  This ended up being a blessing in disguise as my freezer was already full of some other items that would make for an easy Asian feast clearing out some much needed space.  Following the instructions for both the rangoon and pot stickers, I pre-heated the oven and placed a pan with some olive oil over medium heat.

The crab rangoon were separated onto a baking pan and placed in the oven to bake.  Potstickers were thrown into the hot oil and allowed to sear on each side per the recommended cooking instructions.  As the oven was putting the finishing touches on the crab and cream cheese stuffed “wontons” (reason for the quotations marks to follow), water was added to the pan full of pork filled pot stickers and covered steaming them to finalize the process.  The rangoon gave off a slight aroma of sweet crab and cream cheese mixed with pastry as they exited the oven and allowed to cool.  The appropriate time had elapsed for the potstickers and the lid was pulled off, revealing a savory hit of pork, the stench of cabbage, and a kick of ginger.  Judging by smell and looks alone, the latter was going to be my favorite.IMG_20130222_203055

Appetizers were plated, and it was time to taste.  I decided to start off with the rangoon, which I had already begun to doubt.  The vessel was more like dough and not even close to the bubbly wonton wrappers I am accustomed to.  I took my first bite and the filling was just as disappointing.  There was very little on the inside and it lacked that gooey filling that a little more cream cheese would have added.  On the plus side, these guys were made with real crab, but watered down with some imitation crab as well.  They weren’t the worst that I’ve ever had, but not something that you would see me coming back for.

IMG_20130222_202908It was time to dig into the potstickers.  They had been filling my nostrils with their delicious aroma since I removed the lid from the pan.  They were soft from steaming and crisp on the edges with a golden brown sear coming from timely turning.  I placed the first pot sticker in my mouth as a blend of slightly firm cabbage mixed with the sweet and savory ground pork.  Everything that I had smelled was now mixing on my palate in grand harmony.  These were pretty good for a cheap grocery store alternative and could have passed as restaurant quality potstickers.

So, stick with the potstickers, ditch the rangoon.  These appetizers are great value items but only one of them is going to receive my endorsement.  But, if you don’t believe me on the latter, don’t say that I didn’t FORKing warn you.  There’s a good chance you’ll be ordering some replacements from your local Chinese restaurant.

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Kickstarter Abuse Pt. 1

Anyone who is familiar with Kickstarter.com knows what the site is all about.  It’s kinda like venture capitalism, except you’re getting your support from the community.  It could be one single contributor, who really believes in your cause, or a mass of donors shelling out bits and pieces to support your idea.  I love the idea, and when applied correctly, can really get a concept off of the ground.   Using Kickstarter is a great way to enrich a community with a new piece of art in a community, or a business that gives something back in the process of raising money.   With that being said, there are ways that I think the system can be abused.  However, I find myself battling whether to be angry at the people who started the campaign or the folks who contribute.

Recently, Katie’s Pizza in Richmond Heights, began a campaign to raise money for their new venture in Rock Hill, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.  I thought the idea of it was pretty business savvy.  Not only does it generate buzz about your business, but you raise a little money in the process.  I looked in to it a little more, and slowly started to get a little disgusted by the campaign.  This wasn’t at all about community, and at the $40,000 price tag that they “needed”, was a little bit ludicrous.  The levels of contribution are completely self serving and do nothing for the “community” unless you are an elite who can afford the finer things in life.  One of the contributing levels even gets one an ego boosting table named after them.  Here’s a list of these ridiculous backer rewards:

Click here to skip ahead to Pt. 2 of Kickstarter Abuse———————->>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • Pledge $5 or more:  Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!
  • Pledge $10 or more:  Thank you! Complimentary drink at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta!
  • Pledge $25 or more:  Thank You! You will receive a complimentary dish and drink at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta!  Your name on our website featuring all of our supporters!
  • Pledge $25 or more:  Thank you! OUT OF TOWNERS. You will receive 1lb of our artisan pasta. Pick your flavor, procini, arugula, or tomato! A jar of our famous basil pesto. Plus your name on our website featuring all of our supporters!
  • Pledge $50 or more:  Thank you! You will receive a 2 course lunch for 2 people including 2 drinks at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters!
  • Pledge $50 or more:  Thank you! OUT OF TOWNERS. You will receive a 3lbs of our artisan pasta. Pick your flavors, porcini, arugula, or tomato. 2 jars of our famous basil pesto! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters!
  • Pledge $75 or more:  Thank you! One ticket to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! This will be the much anticipated party of the year, with complimentary food, drinks, and schmoozing with the “Who’s who”! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters!
  • Pledge $75 or more:  Thank you! OUT OF TOWNERS* You will receive a 3lbs of our artisan pasta. Pick your flavors, porcini, arugula, or tomato. 2 jars of our famous basil pesto! Plus you will receive lunch for 2 including 2 dishes and 2 drinks when you come in town! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters!
  • Pledge $100 or more:  Thank you! You will receive a 5 course dinner for 2 people including drinks at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters!
  • Pledge $150 or more:  Thank You! At this level you will receive a special 5 course dinner for 4 people, including drinks* at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus you will receive 1 ticket to the GRAND OPENING PARTY at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! This will be the much anticipated party of the year, with complimentary food, drinks, and schmoozing with the “Who’s Who”! Plus you will receive 1 lb of our artisan tagliatelle. Pick your flavor, porcini  arugula, or tomato! A jar of our famous basil pesto. Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters!
  • Pledge $200 or more:  Thank you! At this level you get 1 ticket to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critique the menu before we open to the public! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta!
  • Pledge $250 or more:  Thank you! *COOKING CLASS* At this level you get a private pizza & pasta making cooking class with Chef Katie Lee. Plus lunch for 2 people, includes 2 dish and 2 drinks, at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus 1 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta!
  • Pledge $300 or more:  Thank you! *LUNCH CLUB* At this level you will receive lunch for 2 people once a month for a whole year! This includes a dish and drink for 2 people on each visit! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $300 or more:  Thank you! Thank You! At this level you get a children’s pizza making party for 10 children at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! (Includes…each child makes their own 10″ pizza & a soft drink with Chef Katie Lee, along with balloons and crafts on their table!) Plus 2 ticket to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta!
  • Pledge $400 or more:  Thank you! *DINNER CLUB* At this level you will receive a 2 course dinner with a drink for 2 people once a month for a whole year! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta!
  • Pledge $450 or more:  Thank You! *LUNCH FOR THE OFFICE* At this level you get lunch, including salad and pizza for 20 people delivered to your office for you and your colleagues! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $550 or more:  Thank You! At this level you will get a 1 hour pizza and pasta making cooking class, followed by a ‘NIGHT ON THE LINE’ along side Chef Katie Lee in our open kitchen for all the diners to watch you cook! Plus, a 4 course dinner for 2 including drinks at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Part of this package is only redeemable 90 days after the opening of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $750 or more:  Thank you! At this level you get 6 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critique the menu before we open to the public! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $1,000 or more:  Thank you! At this level you will get a special 5 course dinner for you and 8, includes drinks! Plus 2 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critique the menu before we open to the public! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Part of this package is only redeemable 90 days after the opening of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $2,000 or more:  THANK YOU! At this level you will get a table NAMED AFTER YOU! A brass plaque will display your name on your favorite table! Plus, you will get a special 5 course dinner 8 people, includes drinks! Plus 2 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critic the menu before we open to the public! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $2,000 or more:  THANK YOU! At this level you will get a specialty cocktail on the Katie’s Pizza & Pasta menu designed and NAMED AFTER YOU! Plus, you will get a special 5 course dinner 8 people, includes drinks! Plus 2 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critic the menu before we open to the public! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $3,000 or more:  THANK YOU! At this level you get a special 5 course dinner including drinks for 20 people at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus 4 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critic the menu before we open to the public! Plus 2 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Part of this package is only redeemable 90 days after the opening of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta
  • Pledge $3,500 or more:  Thank you! **SPECIAL OUT OF TOWNERS PACKAGE** At this level we will fly you and a friend from wherever you live inside the continental USA to Katie’s Pizza & Pasta in St. Louis, MO, for a 2 night stay at the Four Seasons Downtown! While you are visiting you will receive a 1 hour pizza and pasta cooking class with chef Katie Lee. Plus, a magical 7 course dinner including drinks for 2 people at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. This package is only redeemable 90 days after the opening of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $5,000 or more:  THANK YOU! At this level you get a special 7 course dinner including drinks for 20 people at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Lunch for 10 including salad and pizza delivered to your business! A 1 hour cooking class with Chef Katie Lee for 4 people followed by dinner for 4 including drinks! Plus 4 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critic the menu before we open to the public! Plus 4 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Part of this package is only redeemable 90 days after the opening of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $8,000 or more:  Thank You! At this level you get a pizza designed and named after YOU on the Katie’s Pizza & Pasta menu!! Plus, a special 7 course dinner including drinks for 20 people at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Lunch for 10 including salad and pizza delivered to your business! Plus 4 tickets to a special PRE-OPENING TASTING DINNER! This will be an exclusive 7 course tasting dinner including drinks! You will be one of the first to dine at Katie’s Pizza & Pasta and critic the menu before we open to the public! Plus 4 tickets to the GRAND OPENING PARTY! Plus your name on our website featuring our supporters! At this level we are also adding your name or your companies name to our THANK YOU SUPPORTERS WALL, located in the restaurant at the new Katie’s Pizza & Pasta! Plus you will recieve a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Plus you will receive a certificate for your wall stating that you are a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta. Part of this package is only redeemable 90 days after the opening of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.
  • Pledge $10,000 or more:  If you are interested in becoming a backer of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta at this level or higher, please contact Katie and Ted directly for more info on this exciting level!!! Katiespizza@gmail.com

(Disclaimer:  I edited some of the text to correct spelling and some grammar errors)

Pt. 2 —————————————————–>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Kickstarter Abuse Pt. 2

<<<<<——————Back to Pt. 1 (Pledge List and Intro)

For those of you who read that exhausting list, kudos.  Those that skipped ahead, you’ll still get the gist of what I’m talking about.  Nothing of what was listed gives anything back to the community.  It’s all pretty egotistical and, frankly, pisses me off a little.  Here’s the thing:  people don’t care.  This project is doing well and as of 2/14 they are over half way towards their goal.  Why go get a small business loan (which is what they should be doing instead of begging the community for support) when you can drain the local population and a few people with expendable income for the money you need.

Now, I could be angry at Katie Lee and her fiance Ted Collier for even starting something like this, when they should be out there filing for a small business loan or seeking out venture capital to realize their new concept.  But, I’m not.  I really can’t blame them.  It’s a great idea and I wish that I would have thought of doing the same thing.  I don’t agree with the principle behind it, but I just can’t bring myself to be angry at them.  However, I am still angry, and I have to direct my emotions somewhere.

Unfortunately, I’m pointing my finger at the backers.  If one of you is reading this.  Shame on you.  There are thousands of projects on Kickstarter to back.  Ones that help people, enrich communities, and more importantly, help the real small business owners get a start.  Not a successful restaurateur expand her business.  Kickstarter isn’t a place for the rich to get richer and the people who are pledging this money should be ashamed.  If this venture is successful and the project gets backed, that’s $40,000 going into the pockets of two people who don’t really need it.  That money could be put towards feeding the poor, building affordable housing, or curing disease.  Instead that money is going towards a ticket to mingle with the “Who’s Who” or to have the backer’s name forever engraved on the menu of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s their money and they can spend it however he or she chooses.  I just hope that while they’re downing a martini wielding their name while eating at their even more pompous friend’s table, they think about the fact that their name and money might be better served on a bench at a park or even on a plaque at a children’s hospital.

Chicken Medallions in Coconut Red Curry (Trader Joe’s)

Thai food is easily my favorite.  It’s a great combination of sweet and savory, and just the mere mention of it makes me giddy.  I usually make stops at a few local restaurants to get my fix, and when I’m feeling rambunctious I’ll grab all of the necessary goods from the store and make some at home.  I was feeling that itch not too long ago, and stopped into Trader Joe’s to feed my need.  I grabbed a few peppers and basil, passing by the fresh section just to have my attention averted.  In the cooler was a new Thai item that was just about to make my life a little easier, and save me a few much needed moments as I had school work to do and life was already pretty hectic.  I plucked the Chicken Medallions in Coconut Red Curry off of the shelf and scurried home to enjoy my new discovery.
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Inevitably my craving was about to be curved, and in a much timelier fashion than I had previously thought.  I grabbed the prepared Thai dish out of the bag and read the directions to begin this adventure.  There are two ways to go about re-heating the chicken medallions:  Microwaving the punctured bag or boiling the bag in a large sauce pan.  I went for the latter, as I try to avoid the nuke box at all costs.  This way of preparing the dish adds a few minutes, and if you’re in a time crunch, the microwave will suffice.  With the water at a full boil I placed the bag into the rolling water and reduced the heat so the packaging would simmer in the pot.  After 15 minutes the chicken was heated through and I clipped open the bag, pouring it into a bowl.  I served it with rice and dug in.  The first bite was small sliver of tender chicken covered in the sweet red curry.  I was exceptionally good with the protein melting in my mouth with the delicious sauce coating my palate.  My only knock on it was a lack of spice, but this is something that could be remedied by adding your own.
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It’s another successful ethnic dish by Trader Joe’s, a company that really reaches out to find items like this to line their shelves to keep foodies like me coming back in.  These Chicken Medallions in Coconut Red Curry were just right on just about every level.  It’s a great value, and will easily feed 2.  Also, it serves as a great canvas to add your own elements like peppers, cauliflower, or any other vegetables you can imagine.  So, if you have the urge for Thai, but neither the time to make it yourself or funds to dine out, I would suggest making your FORKing way into Trader Joe’s and giving this product a try.

Cheddar Rocket Crackers (Trader Joe’s)

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Kids eat crackers by the tons, and food companies have been very keen to this market for years. These snacks come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. However, the ones that do the best are animal shaped. The cracker I most commonly associate with this trend, is Pepperidge Farms Goldfish. They are perfect for kids as their imaginations blossom with the idea that they are holding, not only a bite sized snack, but an underwater creature they can swim around in an imaginary sea before entering the mouth of a much bigger predator. As I was scanning the new item shelf at Trader Joe’s, I discovered a couple of facings of a new bite sized cracker tucked away on the bottom shelf. They were Cheddar Rocket Crackers, and my my imagination blossomed as I could see children everywhere blasting one of these off just to make a crash landing in the black hole of their mouths. Here’s what I thought:

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After my shopping adventure at Trader Joe’s, which yielded plenty of new treasures because of their ever popular Fearless Flyer, I dug through the bag to pick out the blue box of cheddar rockets. I was feeling a bit nostalgic, and I was excited to relive a few childhood memories, substituting rockets for fish. I opened the box and poured about 2 servings of the orange snacks into a bowl. They made a dense thud in the dish as they cascaded down on to the ceramic surface that was unlike the sound the goldfish had made. This was a good sign. I picked one up and guided it into my mouth at warp speed, holding back from making any jet-like sounds. They were light and crisp, and they had plenty of layers that held a savory, sharp cheddar flavor. They were light years better than the PF Goldfish that I grew up with and the density was unlike anything that I had ever experienced out of the previously mentioned snack. They were the perfect balance between a Cheese Nips and Goldfish, with an exciting new shape. I’ll admit to the fact that it was extremely difficult for me to put the box away as I poured my self another bowl and sat down for a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation for nostalgia sake.

I really can’t compare these to anything else on the market. I even did a Google search to see if anyone else was making these rocket shaped cheese delights, and came up empty handed. Trader Joe’s continues to impress me with their snack selections as they keep churning out classics such as these cheddar crackers. These are great for kids, and adults with active imaginations or just good taste such as myself. I’d highly recommend these as a light, on-the-go snack for any parent trying to stave off a hunger tantrum. What kind of FORKing parent would you be without these?