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Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags: Product Review

Another beautiful, colorful fall, another millions leaves on my yard, another interminable chore of gathering up said leaves. One of the joys of being a homeowner. Every year, my wife and I – disclaimer: mostly my wife – start the task of raking up the leaves with less than full enthusiasm. We gather them in monster piles, which are fun for the kids. After they’ve had their fun, we shove the leaves in bags and leave them on the side of the road for the Fall Fairy to collect as an offering to ensure her bounty. Either that or the city collects ’em. Whichever is first, I guess.

For that task, I am happy to use Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags. They are available at Costco, in one size only, in a box of 60 bags, that cost $12.99. This translates to a per-bag cost of 21.65 cents, or between four and five bags to the dollar. Considering that I need about 20 bags per year to complete the operation, this is a pretty good deal.

Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags

Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags

Now, on to the bags themselves. They measure 31 inches by 45.5 inches, which is a standard size for garbage bags. They are completely transparent, letting the city (or the Fall Fairy) know that you are not sneaking in some household garbage along with your leaves. Naughty boy.

In terms of resistance, drum liners they are not, but will hold up to leaves and the occasional twigs. Bigger branches will poke through the bag, but it is resilient enough not to tear further if a whole has been poked in it.

The Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags feature the ‘Smart Tie Closure’ system, which means that the bags are really easy to tie shut. I don’t understand why every garbage bag doesn’t offer this functionality. It’s not much, but it makes a massive difference in regards to how much you can pack the bag before having to close it, saving me time and money.

Since this is a Kirkland Signature product, you can only get it at Costco, but I honestly don’t understand why you would shop anywhere else for that kind of products. Just buying this kind of stuff – all the essentials, really – at Costco more than pays for your membership.

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa at Costco: Product Review

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m not the baker in our house. This honor belongs to my wife, so she is much more familiar with baking ingredients than I am. That being said, I have gathered her thoughts about this product, and I can confidently write a product review! I’m talking, of course, of the excellent Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa, which is available in many places, but which we buy at Costco, because it is dirt cheap there, and it helps us maximize our membership and our Executive 2% Cash Back.

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa

First, let’s talk about price. This 700 gram container of Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa, when purchased at Costco, costs $8.99. This may not seem significant, but you can buy the exact same thing on Amazon for anywhere from $25 to $35. If you need baking cocoa for cakes, hot chocolate, brownies or anything else where cocoa is needed, then just buying this twice a year can cover the costs of your Costco membership!

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa Nutrition Facts

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa Nutrition Facts

My wife uses this cocoa in just about anything, but what she uses it most of all is when making hot chocolate. Using cocoa and sugar, as opposed to a prepared mix, really allows you to control the taste. You can get it as sweet or as bitter as you like it. She likes it bitter, I love it sweet, so we can both get our wish quickly and easily, and for a fraction of the price or prepared hot chocolate.

The baking cocoa is also incredible in brownies and chocolate cakes, which are my wife’s specialty. She doesn’t make them too often, because we would just eat cake until we explode, or eat a whole tray of brownies in one sitting.

Now that I’m saying it like that, and reading over what I wrote, it’s a wonder we’re not both severely overweight.

My dad, who is well into his 70’s and a lifelong fan of decadent chocolate cake, declared a few years ago that my wife made the best chocolate cake he’d ever eaten. It might not sound like a big deal, because you don’t know him, but it is.

When it comes to nutrition, just have a look at the nutrition facts above. I’m not going to bother going through it with a fine-tooth comb, because there is no point.

This is cocoa, not a chocolate bar.

Similarly, the list of ingredients can be summed up in one word: Cocoa. There you have it.

The Rodelle Gourmet Baking Chocolate is not only delicious, it’s also a great deal, if you buy it at Costco. As a bonus, I’m happy to include a picture of the official Rodelle Fudge Brownies recipe, as printed on the side of the cocoa container. Enjoy!

Rodelle Official Fudge Brownies Recipe

Rodelle Official Fudge Brownies Recipe

Planters Smooth Peanut Butter at Costco: Product Review

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a while since I posted a review, but here you have it, better late than never. Lots of stuff going on in my life, which had to take precedence over my blog. But now I’m back, and back in style with some delicious ‘new’ Planters Smooth Peanut Butter. I bought this at Costco a few weeks ago, on the principle that it was a half-dollar cheaper than the Kraft, and I’d never tried it. It’s a new addition at my Costco, although I’m sure it’s been around for a while.

Planter's Smooth Peanut Butter (Costco size)

Planter’s Smooth Peanut Butter (Costco 2-kilogram size)

When it comes to taste, and after a week trial, I’m happy to say to I like it – so far – more than the Kraft, and more than the Skippy, although it’s always a tough to call a ranking on such products without having both side by side for a comparison.

What I found most noticeable, and my wife concurs, is that it tastes less sweet and has a much more pronounced peanut taste, a little reminiscent of natural peanut butter, without the astringent factor.

As far as the ingredients go, while sugar is still in second place, it’s good to see that it’s just regular sugar and not high fructose corn syrup or some other insanely addictive garbage. Here are the ingredients, in decreasing order of appearance:

  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed, soybean and/or rapeseed oil)
  • Salt
  • Fancy molasses
  • Peanut oil

I bought this jar on October 18th, 2015 for $7.49, and it contains 2 kilograms of peanut butter, for a per kilogram price of $3.75, or $1.70 a pound, which is pretty cheap, as you can normally find peanut butter at the supermarket for around $4-5 per 500 grams (pound).

The nutritional facts are completely identical to those of the Kraft Peanut Butter, 90 calories per serving, 12% fat daily value, 4% sugar, et cetera.

Since the nutritional value is the same, I must remain happy that the taste is better, with a richer peanut taste without the dryness that comes with natural peanut butter. You’ll notice that I mostly refer to the bottom half of natural peanut butter containers. The top half is disgustingly oily. I know you’re supposed to mix it, and I do. Still gross.

I’m not so crazy about the Planter’s Smooth Peanut Butter that I now need to have it *all the time*, but as long as it’s the same price or cheaper than the competition, I’ll always pick it. Tastes great, excellent value.

Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels at Costco: Product Review

Gotta love Costco. I mean, I do, but I’m always amazed at the kind of stuff I’ll find there. There’s always something that’s too big, a little outrageous, or just a bit coming out of left field. For example, the 8-foot tall, $230 teddy bear they trot out every year around this time. Today, the catch was this enormous bucket of pretzels; I mean, it’s not a jar any longer. It’s a bucket. Introducing the 1.47-kilogram, ginormous bucket of Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels, made in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Incidentally, I have today learned that Pennsylvania is the heart of the American pretzel industry, thanks to this overly informative Wikipedia page.

Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels

Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels

I’m sorry I didn’t include a specific frame of reference in the picture. Trust me when I say that this bucket of pretzels is truly deserving of the name ‘bucket’. It contains 1.47 kilograms of delicious pretzels, which translates into roughly 3.25 pounds. That’s a lot of pretzels. These will go well with my other snacks.

All that sourdough deliciousness comes at the price of $8.99 at my local Costco. It does feel weird to be buying such an obviously enormous quantity of something. I really felt strange coming out of the store with my massive tub o’ salt.

When it comes to nutrition, these pretzels are clearly not there, unless you’re low on salt, then they’ll do the job admirably. Each 5-pretzel portion (which can be consumed in 30 seconds or less, if you’re in no rush) contains an impressive 19% of your daily recommended salt intake. Just have a look at the pretzels in the picture. They are clearly covered in coarse salt. Yummy! I’m serious.

Here’s a look at the ingredients take make up those delicious sourdough pretzels:

  • Unbleached enriched flour
  • Salt
  • Palm and/or corn oils
  • Maltodextrin
  • Buttermilk powder
  • Citric acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Yeast
  • Natural flavor
  • Vinegar
  • Sodium bicarbonate

I’m always happy to see that Costco is promoting products that do not contain mountains of unpronounceable ingredients; of course, that’s what the members and customers are asking for, but it’s good to see them stepping up to the plate.

As to the pretzels, well, they are everything that a pretzel should be. Crunchy, dry but not too dry, salty with that distinctive sourdough taste. Just try ’em , they’re awesome. I don’t know how long my Costco will carry the Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels, but I hope they last. If they don’t, well, the tub’s big enough to last me a week or two.

If you’re

Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese at Costco: Product Review

Parmesan cheese is an essential, if not major ingredient in many of my favorite dishes. Spaghetti, or any kind of pasta, really, is but a pale shadow of what it could be without Parmesan. Of course, Fettuccine Alfredo is nothing without Parmesan. Not very Alfredo at all. Of course, this demand for Parmesan has led me to look for the very best deals. The tiny 100 gram containers they sell at most grocery stores are completely inadequate when your recipes call for cups of the stuff. A few years ago, I discovered the Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese at Costco.

Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese at Costco

Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese at Costco

The first thing I looked at was the price. It has varied in the last few years, but has been consistently around $13.99 per kilogram – that’s the size of the bag. That translates to $1.39 per 100 grams, no taxes, which is considerably cheaper than your grocery store will charge, which is usually anywhere from $3 to $5 per 100 grams. Nice margins.

Alright, so the price is right. But what about the cheese itself? The good news is that it smells like it should, especially when warmed on food, or in the microwave. No one in the vicinity can deny you’re eating Parmesan.

When used in a recipe, or simply sprinkled generously on pasta, the taste is very acceptable and a worthy substitute for imported Italian Parmesan, for the price, but if you’re planning anything fancier, I’d get the real stuff. One of the reasons for this can be found on the ingredients list. See below.

Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese at Costco (ingredients)

Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese at Costco (ingredients)

The ingredients of Grande’s Grated Parmesan Cheese are as follows:

  • Pasteurized Milk – good start
  • Salt – It’s Parmesan, after all
  • Powdered Cellulose – What?
  • Modified Milk Ingredients
  • Lipase
  • Microbial Enzyme
  • Bacterial Culture
  • Natamycin

As you can see, most of the ingredients sound good, except for one, which is powdered cellulose. It is included in there to act as an anti-caking agent, to prevent the grated cheese from clumping. It’s not bad for you, but it’s the third ingredient in this grated cheese. There’s a lot of it in there. Just to be clear, cellulose is mainly used to make paper and cardboard, and has a million other industrial uses, including to make smokeless gunpowder. You can read more about cellulose here. I’m pretty certain that the original Parmigiano-Reggiano doesn’t include this foreign ingredient. If you eat a big spoonful of Grande’s Grated Parmesan, you’ll find that it tastes quite powdery, a texture that disappears when mixed with other ingredients in a recipe.

As you can see by the nutrition facts sheet, this Parmesan is also quite salty, which is normal – you definitely won’t need to add salt to any recipe in which you include it!

In conclusion, the Grande Grated Parmesan Cheese is great when cooking, or sprinkled on pasta. It has a rich Parmesan flavor, If you’re going to use it in any other way, I would highly recommend purchasing the real Parmigiano, which is also available at Costco, for something around $25 a kilogram. This is especially true if you want to serve it on salad, or in any application that requires more substance than a finely-ground cheese. This Parmesan is made entirely in Canada, from 100% Canadian milk, which is great, but I can’t help but think they’re abusing the appellation ‘Parmesan’. It should more probably be called ‘Parmesan-style grated cheese’. But eh, I’m no expert, and I like both the taste and price!

CJ Bibigo Chicken and Cilantro Mini Wontons at Costco: Product Review

Today I would love to share with you what has become, over the last few years, of my favorite products to purchase at Costco, the Chicken and Cilantro Mini Wontons, from CJ Food’s Bibigo brand. These won-tons are absolutely delicious, surprisingly healthy, filling and affordable. In short, the perfect combination.

As the back of the package will happily demonstrate, these won-tons are fully cooked, and basically just need to be defrosted and heated through, usually a quick process. They can be pan-fried in about 5 minutes, from frozen, or boiled in less than 3 minutes. A delicious homemade won-ton soup, with a healthy dollop of Hoisin sauce and Sriracha, is one of my favorite weekday lunch meals. Quick and filling.

CJ Bibigo Chicken and Cilantro Mini-Wontons at Costco

CJ Bibigo Chicken and Cilantro Mini-Wontons at Costco

These won-tons are sold at Costco in 3-pound bags, or 1.36 kilograms. The regular price is $12.99 per bag, in Canadian dollars, but they come on sale regularly, so I stock up then. The bag pictured I purchased at $3 off, so $9.99 for 3 pounds, or $3.33 a pound.

CJ Bibigo Chicken and Cilantro Mini-Wontons Nutrition Facts

CJ Bibigo Chicken and Cilantro Mini-Wontons Nutrition Facts

According to the nutrition fact sheet, each serving is comprised of four (4) won-tons, for a total of 36 grams. We can thus deduce, through the power of intellect and basic math, that each bag contains approximately 150 won-tons.

When I make my soup, just for me, I use about 15-20 won-tons. So each massive bowl of soup costs me less than a dollar in won-tons, and I have not calculated the cost of the chicken broth yet, but I buy it at Costco too, so it’s super cheap per serving.

Besides the fact that these won-tons are really, really good, I love the fact that they are reasonably healthy, for something that you buy frozen in a bag. As you can see by the nutrition fact sheet to the left, each serving contains few calories – only 50 – and very little fat, only 1% per serving. What is highest in this case is the sodium, at 7% per serving, but even when you multiply it by 5, because you *will* eat more than 1 serving, it’s still not that bad.

Of course, when combined with the Hoisin sauce, you’ll probably get sausage fingers and be really thirsty, but that’s on you, not on the won-tons!

On to the ingredients. At first glance, the best news is that there are no incomprehensible ingredients. I can actually tell what all the ingredients in these won-tons are, which is uncommon, again, for frozen stuff that comes in a bag. The first ingredient is chicken -good news! – and sugar, my personal least favorite, comes way down the list.

Seriously, though, I have nothing more to say. Look at the ingredients. These things are wholesome by prepared food standards. Really wholesome. Of course, don’t look for them to contain much in the way of vitamins, but that’s a minor drawback. You can read more about the history of won-tons right through here (opens in a new window)

Bibigo’s Chicken and Cilantro Mini-Wontons, available at Costco are best served pan-fried and tossed with oyster sauce, on rice with sauteed vegetables, or in soup. Just be careful not to overcook them, or they’ll become very mushy and lose their shape and substance, if not their taste. Stock up when they are on special at Costco, and keep a bag or two of these in the freezer; they make for a quick, healthy meal the whole family will love! Sounds corny, I know, but in our case, it’s true!