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Some frozen appetizers worthy of New Year's

Well-known food writer Michael Pollan says most of us spend more time watching cooking shows on television than we do cooking our own food. That may be true, but when it comes to appetizers, it's understandable. Making little bites for a party crowd can take lots of time. That's not news to food manufacturers who have been rolling out new frozen appetizers every year. We sampled six brands of finger foods found in local grocery stores to see if any would help us cut corners this New Year's. Judges were pretty harsh, but three of the brands got nods of approval.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

Tyson Any'tizers

Chicken & Bacon

Bruschetta
SeaPak Shrimp

Spring Rolls
Margaritaville

Boomerang Shrimp
Judges'

comments
Bold cheese flavor gave these appetizers an edge over the others. Judges liked the look of the bruschetta with festive coloring of red tomato, white cheese and green flecks of spice. "A half-dozen of these with a cold beer would be heaven," said one panelist. Another said she wouldn't hesitate to serve these to guests. "They look appealing, like tiny French bread pizzas with a nice crunch and herb flavors," she said. "They are nice and buttery, too."

Light, crunchy wrapping and filling enough to satisfy our tasters put these on the New Year's shopping list. "When these are served nice and hot, the shell is crispy with a hint of sweetness," said one. The package contains dipping sauce as well. "I like the good, fresh veggie taste," said another judge. One said these might be especially appealing to children because of their light texture and subtle combination of flavors. "I'm eating these during the football games on New Year's Day," added one panelist.

The Boomerang Shrimp is a great appetizer for guests who like a lot of heat in their food. "They are very spicy and bold," said one judge. "These look really homemade with irregular shapes and sizes and they have a good Southwest flavor," said another. "I would serve these to guests, but I'll make sure I have plenty of cold drinks in the fridge first."

Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$3.99 for a 10.5-ounce box of 10-12 appetizers from Winn-Dixie.$8.99 for a 20-ounce box of 16 rolls from Winn-Dixie.$5.47 for an 8-ounce box of about 20 pieces from Walmart.
Product/Score

Tyson Any'tizers

Chicken & Bacon

Bruschetta
SeaPak Shrimp

Spring Rolls
Margaritaville

Boomerang Shrimp
Judges'

comments
Bold cheese flavor gave these appetizers an edge over the others. Judges liked the look of the bruschetta with festive coloring of red tomato, white cheese and green flecks of spice. "A half-dozen of these with a cold beer would be heaven," said one panelist. Another said she wouldn't hesitate to serve these to guests. "They look appealing, like tiny French bread pizzas with a nice crunch and herb flavors," she said. "They are nice and buttery, too."

Light, crunchy wrapping and filling enough to satisfy our tasters put these on the New Year's shopping list. "When these are served nice and hot, the shell is crispy with a hint of sweetness," said one. The package contains dipping sauce as well. "I like the good, fresh veggie taste," said another judge. One said these might be especially appealing to children because of their light texture and subtle combination of flavors. "I'm eating these during the football games on New Year's Day," added one panelist.

The Boomerang Shrimp is a great appetizer for guests who like a lot of heat in their food. "They are very spicy and bold," said one judge. "These look really homemade with irregular shapes and sizes and they have a good Southwest flavor," said another. "I would serve these to guests, but I'll make sure I have plenty of cold drinks in the fridge first."

Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$3.99 for a 10.5-ounce box of 10-12 appetizers from Winn-Dixie.$8.99 for a 20-ounce box of 16 rolls from Winn-Dixie.$5.47 for an 8-ounce box of about 20 pieces from Walmart.


Also Sampled: Nancy's Tomato Provolone & Turkey, Bacon Ranch Deli Spirals ($7.98 for a 14.4-ounce box of 32 spirals from Walmart); Recipe Box Foods Cranberry & Cheese Wonton Purses ($4.98 for a 4.5-ounce box of 10 pieces from Walmart); and R.S.V.P. Chicken, Black Beans, Cheese & Southwest Spices in puff pastry shells ($6 for a 12-ounce box of 12 pieces from Walmart).

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design; Janet Keeler, Times food and travel editor; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to jkeeler@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.



Serving sizeThree piecesThree rollsSeven pieces
Calories190170310
Fat/Fiber5g / 2g9g / 2g22g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium3g / 490mg1g / 440mg2g / 730mg
Carbs/Protein20g / 14g18g / 4g22g / 9g

Some frozen appetizers worthy of New Year's 12/27/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013 6:00pm]
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