Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 279 - Southwest Chicken Poppers

I went to a “new to this blog” Trader Joe’s this week.  It was not new to ME, mind you, I had been there before, but not since I began this blog.  It is the one in Tysons Corner, VA (on Leesburg Pike in Falls Church) – which, to those of you not from the Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland area – is a suburb of DC basically.  J

Anyway, it is right off a busy road, which makes getting out of the parking lot a bit tricky.  One exit has a stop light and that is the best one to use, but the set up makes it tough to get in line to get out.  The shopping complex has, among other things, a Peet’s Coffee, so you can grab a latte to sip while you shop.  I think it is strange that there is a Whole Foods right across the road, too.  I am not sure which one came first but they sure are close to each other.

Artwork in the TJ's lobby - Tyson's Corner THEN and NOW.  :)
This store was fine.  Nothing really special about it – no employees smiled at me or greeted me or asked if I needed help.  It was clean.  Signs were okay.  I saw a stuffed frog wearing a TJ’s nametag hidden amongst some products, so they must have the program for kids to find it.  That always makes me smile.  It seemed like the store might be having an inspection of some sort when I was there because some people with clip boards were standing out on the sidewalk lamenting about the lack of lights. 

What I found to be the worst about this store was what appeared to be a distrust of shoppers.  Either they have some really jerky people who shop there, or someone in management thinks people can’t return carts to the store, because there is no curb cut in front of the store to roll your cart down to bring your groceries to the car and load them.  Not only that; even if you are willing to “off-road it” and barrel your cart down a curb, they went to the trouble of placing BARRIERS all in front of the store that are not wide enough for a cart to fit through.  Look – I am a responsible, trustworthy citizen.  I RETURN MY SHOPPING CARTS after delivering my goods to the car, people!!  And you should, too.  (That is a pet peeve of mine – people who leave shopping carts in parking lots are rude.)  I realize not everyone returns their cart though, and I hate door dings as much as the next guy.  But REALLY, it feels unwelcoming to be blocked in with my cart and forced to carry heavy bags to the car.  Once I lugged my big bag to the car I noticed that if a shopper walks quite far down to the next store, they could bring their cart out into the parking lot THERE, as they have a curb cut and no barriers. 

I took this photo before I walked into the store. I didn't even notice this unfriendly curb/barrier combination as I was taking it!
Enough of my rant.  Onto the review.

Southwest Chicken Poppers.  What is FUNNY is that by the time we sat down to eat these I had somehow convinced myself that TJ’s had named this product CHICKEN BALLS.  Understandably (to me at least) I found that name very funny.  I worried about the chickens…  And as part of this review I was prepared to explain to Trader Joe’s why a name change was in order.  Only now I look at the box and see CHICKEN BALLS was only in my mind!  The real name is Southwest Chicken Poppers (but in our house they will continue to be called Chicken Balls).  J

Chicken Balls - errr - Poppers...
These were good.  I like the breading on the outside and the stuff on the inside is really tasty!  I tasted  black beans, corn, spices - and I didn’t even taste the chicken!  They are a little spicy but not hot at all.  I dipped mine in Hatch Valley Salsa (cuz I love that stuff and could eat it all day) (if you STILL haven't read the Hatch Valley Salsa review click here. )

These took 20 minutes to cook in the oven – not bad at all.  A serving size is 3 which was the right amount for our 10:00 PM dinner.

They don't stay together all that well, but they taste good.  Here they are served with baby bok choy
(dipping choices of Hatch Valley Salsa and TJ's Cowboy Cavier were off to the side)
David said the coating on these was nice.  The inside was moist but “not so gooey” that the stuff ran out.  He agreed that it tasted very nice because of the vegetables.  He also didn’t taste the chicken but wanted to be clear that he didn’t REGRET that.  He decided it must be “chicken paste” that is somehow “infused through the whole thing” because the balls don’t taste like they lack the ”body that proteins give”.  He says it is more like a CROQUETTE.

David, like me, got the giggles over calling these things chicken balls.

They are easy to prepare.  They would make good appetizers for a party.

Price – $3.99

Rating - 4


  1. Never mind the shopping carts--how would a customer in a wheelchair get in or out? No curb cuts, and it looks like there's not enough space to fit between those barriers.

    1. Yeah, anyone in a wheelchair would have to enter onto the sidewalk at the restaurant NEXT TO TJ's, then wheel up to the grocery store. Bit of an ADA nightmare really. But it must be "compliant' with regulations or they couldn't do it. "Complaint" and "welcoming" are, of course, two different things. :)

  2. Relatedly, the one place it can be appropriate for a cart to be left in a parking lot is by the handicapped parking spots (out of the way of cars) - some mobility impaired people rely on leaning on them to get into the store.

    Those barricades sure make that location look all around unfriendly tho, uncharacteristic of the chain. Was it maybe another retailer's spot first, and they just didn't take them out?