Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Final Post: Dunkin' Donuts New Fudge Croissant Donut

If you feel like time is flying by you, then make a commitment to yourself to do something at least once each week. Only then will you understanding how many weeks are in a year, as youre daunted by a commitment of something you know you wanted, but youre too lazy to execute. For years Ive dreamed of having my own food blog. Nothing ignites my passion more than having a new experience with some limited edition food item that I had to drive around town to find. Perhaps its the only modern day hunting and gathering instinct that a woman working in a cubicle can experience, but I can tell you it makes me feel excited and rewarded and that this blog has brought job into my life.

Eating food I shouldnt is sinful and exhilarating. But sitting down at least once a week and writing about it? Thats a challenge. Admittedly easy at first, I remember vividly the first few weeks of January when I found myself on multiple occasions sitting down and finding my fingers easily flowing over the keyboard. I couldnt get the words out fast enough about how I enjoyed or didnt enjoy whatever I was reviewing. But January bled into February, which then became March and my initial enthusiasm waned. Blogger is informative enough to show the posts broken down by each month and I can tell from my personal experience that the months where life got in the way, I barely wrote any posts. I dont even have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times that I considered quitting writing this blog or the weeks that passed without an update. If not for the encouragement of others, recommendations and a guest blogger, then I would have put this To Do List Item off for another year. It would have been a failure and after all of the resources I had dedicated to this, it would have been a failure. Blessed are the gardeners of the soul.

Throughout the year of writing this blog, I have learned quite a few things about myself, as well about the dedication of people who regularly indulge in a hobby. Because I switch things up quite frequently from this list, I am something of a jack of many trades, but the master of none. I think I have a much greater appreciation for people who commit to a sport, or trade, or an art on a lifetime basis. Do not ask me how people do not get bored of the repetition, because that I cannot speak to. While this blog enhanced my life with new experiences and small indulgences, I can honestly say that I wouldnt be able to keep this going on a weekly basis indefinitely, try as I might.

Twelve months and fifty literal blog posts later, I take you to the last planned blog post of this year. Having fallen head over heels with Dunkin Donuts Snickerdoodle Croissant Donut, I was particularly excited to try their new Fudge Croissant Donut. As described by Dunkin, this pastry is a donut made of flakey layers, drizzled with chocolate frosting, and pumped full of chocolate fudge filling. The donut alone has 400 calories, so its not for the calorie conscious thats for sure, but if its anything like their last limited edition croissant donut, then calories be damned.   

What I did review as a part of this blog was the original croissant donut, which I wasnt quite as taken with. With a price tag of $2.49, when the average donut costs me less than $1,00 I cant say I was blown away by the taste to value ratio. Looking at this donut, I am staring at something that reminds me a lot of the original. Looking from the top, you can see there are four puncture points in this donut where filling was inserted, so perhaps thats exactly why this reminds me of the unfilled version. The glaze drizzled on top matches that of my favorite donut, the marble frosted, so I am cautiously optimistic. To note, this donut smells quite good, having the very particular aroma from a glazed Dunkin Donut.

Before biting into this thing, its cut in half to get a cross section view of the filling. You can see at first glance that even though there are four specific puncture points, the donut artist was a little more heavy handed at certain intervals here. 

The filling is impressively dark, lending itself to the whole fudge filled thing. Always being the type of gal who likes to dive in head first, my first bite here is where most of the filling is present. What strikes me first is the taste of the chocolate fudge filling, or lack thereof. Rather than being a dark chocolate that I would expect by sight, its more of a pudding taste. Another taster of this donut told me that this is the same filling that Dunkin uses in their brownie batter donut and I am slightly disappointed. Ive already eaten this entire thing with my eyes and my eyes told me that this was fudgy dark chocolate. The filling is more on the liquid side and the outside is closer to the flakey dry consistency of a croissant and I am not going insane for it. Theres a certain lack of harmony here and this all doesnt seem to come together quite right.

Reading other blogs, the internet went insane for this thing, so donut be deterred by my review. The cronut is as good as the first edition, if that was your thing and this is just a chocolate pudding filled version of that. Chocoholics will be disappointed, but if you blindfolded them then perhaps not. Its not lost on me that there is the other, much lighter and richer chocolate used in those chocolate Kreme filled donuts, which I think would have gone over much better here. That frosting is thicker in consistency and deeper in flavor and this would have blown my lid. With a price tag of $2.49, I wouldnt buy this again or even pull this out of a box of a dozen if it was sitting in our work kitchen.

Signing out until the next chew, whenever that may be. Thanks for letting my words go through your eyes and into your brain over the past year. It means a lot to me. Stay delicious.

Monday, December 21, 2015

One More Poor Decision for 2015: Café Mocha M&M’s

The lack of pre-thought in asking a talented guest blogger to make an appearance on this blog is symbolic of the last twenty eight years of my life. Now you’re back to your regularly scheduled program and I’m staring at dinosaur sized shoes to fill. I wish that I had some kick ass product to review for you, which could outshine any previously written witty word like bacon infused butter sugar cookie cakes, but sadly you’d better buckle up.

You might remember back in September when I reviewed the Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M’s and my head was swimming with deliciousness overload. I really should have soaked it up then. Having dappled quite a bit in the confectionery pool, I was smart enough to recognize the candy for what it was – a welcomed addition to the seasonal line up. It’s not far fetched that I was evoking this favorable memory when I chose to buy the new Café Mocha M&M’s at Target. Sure, no pumpkin in the name but coffee was always that star of the old show anyhow so it was shaping up to be a good day.

It seems interesting to me that M&M’s chose to go the coffee route rather than something even more seasonal – I mean, why not do gingerbread or cookies and milk or something? Hell, I’m good for a minimum of five cups of coffee a day and we’re not just talking on Christmas. Besides the display of red and green, the background of the bag looks a lot like September’s bag and the star of this show appears to be the red M&M. Personally, I really enjoy the red M&M for how crotchety and upset he is all of the time. Hey Soul Brother, you and I are one in the same.

Opening the bag and taking a one large sniff, I don’t smell much of anything. This surprises me, as smelling coffee is nearly as satisfying as drinking it. I read a study years ago about rats who smelled coffee and fewer of the rats who were regularly subjected to taking a whiff  developed dementia as they aged. Sounds like a stretch, but not wanting to take any chances, I smell again. The bag is plenty full and I do feel like whatever I paid for this bag, at least they were kind enough to fill it up. Having read that these M&M’s are exclusively sold at Target, I was glad to have my attempted search be rewarded with a heavy bounty.

The M&M’s in the package are red and green. I have a relative who refuses to eat red M&M’s because she believes that the dye causes cancer, so happy holidays. Lucky for her, there's a disproportionate amount of green in my bag. Fortunate fate. My penchant for sugar laden processed foods makes the food dye concern a bit less prominent in my thought pattern and I take a bite. The first noticeable thing about these is the shape in my mouth, rather than any taste at all. These candies are plumper than their milk chocolate counterparts.

The balance of sugary coating is countered by the significant lump in the middle. As early as first bite, I feel awash with disappointment. This isn’t what I signed up for? I’m not even sure what the hell this tastes like. It’s not offensive, but it’s similar to sugary chocolate chalk and that’s not saying much. “Why is this crumbling in my mouth?” I ask myself, feeling grumpier than the Red M&M would in his commercials. It can’t be that these M&M’s are old, because they’re limited edition for Target, sold exclusively for this season. Without any knowledge if this is true, perhaps there’s instant coffee somehow mixed into the filling? Other blog writers mention there’s a nice coffee taste to this, but whatever they’re chewing, I sure didn’t buy because I’m at a loss.

To be frank with you, 95% of this bag is sitting in my office’s kitchen right now. There was no part of me that wanted to have any more than necessary to review these. It’s the holiday time and I’m unafraid of gorging myself with everything that my stomach desires, but I didn’t want to waste one more second on these than I had to. Mars, you're on my naughty list.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Guest Blogger: What a clusterf.... : Reese's Clusters

Writing for my own food blog has been a dream of mine for the past five years. As somebody who usually feels inhibited to share their private thoughts freely with others, it was an understood stretch of my comfort zone. With the expectation that there would be barely any readership if any at all, it was always about working on my ability to express myself and an excuse to try new and exciting junk more than anything else.

What it’s turned into however has been an uplifting mini excitement to the otherwise monotony which is the standard week. As we reach the final weeks of this blog’s foreseeable life, it is to my sheer delight that I am able to feature a guest blogger who has held me accountable and encouraged me to keep up with this goal. If weeks go by without an update, I hear about it. If I need help with photos or finding the newest item, it’s there.  The best part about it was that it’s my goal and all of that encouragement is because it’s what I want. Blessed are the people who kick you in your ass, so you reach your own goals.

Suffering from unrelenting type A personality syndrome, both myself and the guest blogger were afraid of what I would think of the humor and content of the review, but I was and am absolutely confident that the author of this next piece if something of a junk food expert and free reign was given. I’ve made the mistake up through even my mid-twenties of demanding  the things I want from people on my terms, leading only into disappointment and let this be a much needed lesson to me that by letting people be themselves, sometimes you’re blown away. And no New York Times, the following blogger is not for hire for your Restaurant Review Section. 

Without edit or ado, please welcome the kind of flavor and hilarity that this blog is proud to feature:

We're pleased to interrupt your regular blog schedule with a new snack review perspective. My humble apologies to our lovely Blog Queen, but in all fairness, how practical is it to take snacking advice seriously when it comes from a cute petite little blonde girl. It's sort of like going to a dentist with bad teeth, or going to a life coach (life coach? that's a thing? Fucking really?) that's a few fries short of happy meal. What you need is a snack expert. Me. I'm an expert. My stomach proudly muffin tops over my jeans. Anything that enters the shadow of my butt instantly freezes cause there ain’t no sun ever getting past it. I can't make it to 11am without eating sugar. Pour it straight into my face hole. I once ate a vegetable...because it looked like a kit kat. When the doctor tries to take my blood white granulated sugar pours out. Snack expert status unlocked. My mom also says I'm special. So I'm that too. Yup.

Aforementioned petite little blonde girl loves to buy snacks. Whenever something new pops up she's into it and has to try it. Cool. Recently she alerted me to a new delicacy from the fine folks at Reese's. Introducing the Reese's Clusters. Why is it called a clusters. Marketing fail. Those fabulous people working in the dingy hallways of the Reese's company must not be from a particularly creative gene pool. So what the heck is it? Just the facts ma'am -- Creamy peanut butter, caramel, peanuts and pecans wrapped in milk chocolate. I'm the kind of person that inadvertently drools when he hears the crinkle of a candy wrapper. I don't care what's in the thing, give it to me...NOW.

Upon being handed the bag the first thing that stands out is my disappointment. It feels kind of light for a bag filled with what must be 50 Clusters. Upon opening the sack I retrieve my first victim. Individually wrapped and tiny. Really tiny. Like, I'm pretty sure this is the candy version of the subject of that song from '20 Fingers.' That name doesn't ringing a bell? Sing it with me now..."What in the world is that thing? Do you need some tweezers to put that thing away? That has got to be the smallest..." Get the fuck outta here. This thing is comically small.

Alright, size isn't everything...right?! Who cares, it's candy in my hand and I must eat it. The first bite impression is immediately reminiscent of a pecan turtle. My experienced tongue presses on further, the second wave indicates a smooth consistent peanut butter flavor that matches a typical peanut butter cup filling. The chemical reactions release hints and notes of flavors and textures...a little crunch, soft outer shell, a good mix of flavors, not too sweet, a slight hint of gooey caramel which quickly escapes back into the shadows to be undermined by the star of the show...the peanut butter. It all works together, this thing is good, not too sweet. Enough peanut butter taste to satisfy your peanut butter cravings, but not as powerful as the classic peanut butter cup. These things can often go downhill so what Reese's has done is actually impressive. Any time they mess with the ratio of contents things seem off (see Reese's peanut butter BIG cup). But the cluster, in all its tiny glory, avoids that same fate. It's got balance and hits all the marks. Good taste, classic peanut butter flavor, a little crunchy, satisfying caramel, and the chocolate to filling ratio is spot on. All in, and I'm impressed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

You Need: Trader Joe’s Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Sriracha Potato Chips

As a recovering ketchup addict, I remember the cold, hard day when I faced that fact that by dumping nearly an entire bottle of ketchup on fries, I was coupling my future of heart disease with that of diabetes. I actually got to the point where I thought that if I had to hear somebody say, even one more time, “Do you want some fries with that ketchup?”, that I was going to drown in a sea of re-occurring Dad jokes.

 I remember reading an article about a person who switched to hot sauce after a long, indulgent affair with ketchup and actually lost five pounds naturally after making no other changes. The thing about hot sauces is that no two are quite alike. In mainstream culture, there are two camps. People who love Tabasco are the long standing traditionalists. The no frills, vinegar taste is nearly guaranteed to be available at any eating establishment. On the contrary, people who love Frank’s basically “Put that shi*t on everything,” and can give you a dozen reasons why it’s better than Tabasco. For the purpose of this article, I will diplomatically say that both of these hot sauces have their time and places in my life, respectively.

Let’s fast forward to 2015 when Sriracha, like cookie butter became the “salted caramel” of 2014. The bottle boasts you can put it on anything from pizza to eggs and major food retailers are pumping out products heavily accompanied by this condiment. Regardless of the two earlier major players in the hot sauce game, Sriracha is my #1.
Not long ago, Men’s Health published an article warning ingesters of the 1 gram of sugar per teaspoon in the stuff, meaning that for my originally intended purpose of minimizing my extracurricular sugar intake, this sauce doesn’t fit the bill. Thank you very much for your words of caution Men’s Health, but the reality is that there are a tremendous amount of teaspoons getting past these lips with far more sugar than just one gram. May that be the very worst of it.

You can only imagine my imagination’s delight when I laid my eyes on Trader Joe’s Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Sriracha Potato Chips. There are so few things from TJ’s that’s ever disappointed me. Admittedly that’s half because I can barely afford to buy anything there based on the prices, but certainly partially because they truly know how to pump out a high quality and interesting snack.

Opening up the bag, it was a little bit droopy to see how empty the bag itself was. Sure, these chips were firm and decent sized, but for seven servings – let’s not have Cracker Jack flashbacks. The second best part of the chips was the smell. I have no way of knowing why exactly, but these chips smell exactly like a pork egg roll from a Chinese Restaurant. Understanding my sanity can be questioned saying this, let’s just say that I was not the only nose that detected that very specific scent from these chips.

The combination of the lattice cut with the kettle cooking made these chips substantial and sturdy. There seemed to be no threat of cutting the roof of my mouth, which I never actually worry over, but always feel relief when the texture of such firm chips is just right. You can see visually that some chips have more flavoring than other. The ingredients list mentions Sriracha powder and it’s interesting to see that the powder didn’t spread more evenly in transit.

Most importantly, the flavor. These chips were excellent by my standard. The heat wasn’t nearly as overpowering as sometimes the Sriracha sauce itself can be. There was a meat taste associated, but in the best way possible. The entire time I was dreaming of having some dip to accompany these, but regretfully recognize that the lattice cut would make it more of a sloppy experience than my awkward mannerisms might otherwise do with regular chips.

I would purchase these chips again. I’ll find a holiday party to bring them to as a contribution, just so I can eat them again. Maybe I will even go out and meet new friends to get invited to a holiday party, to buy the chips in hopes of eating these again. Before I go on and on with a joke that’s probably only funny to one (me), let me wholeheartedly recommend these chips to anyone who likes a sweet, hot , beefy chip experience. With adjectives like those, you can’t go wrong.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CRAPPER Jack Holdiay Sugar Cookie Popcorn

While everybody is busy fighting to put the Christ back into Christmas and overthrow Starbucks for their lack of religious festivity, I’m trying to make the most of my holiday season by gorging myself with holiday inspired edibles. I was never going to make Santa’s nice list anyway.

Growing up in a house filled with no sports or athletics, my relationship with Cracker Jacks has always been uncomplicated in the way that I never had one. Sure, I’ve tried them once or twice before but I have no fond memories, sitting in the bleachers, eating a boxful and then getting into a physical fight with my sibling over the prize.

Fast forward to where I’m old enough to be the parent of the kid eating the Cracker Jack’s and welcome to 2015. This year the self-declared “snack brand that America celebrates for over 120 years” has introduced Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn. Cookie flavored popcorn? Get out of town! Or maybe into town, to Norwalk so I can eat you.

The bag describes the treat as “Delicious holiday sugar cookie flavored coated popcorn decorated with holiday sprinkles.” Okay, that’s a lot for my mind to wrap my head around but so far no red flags. Perhaps hard to gauge from the picture, this isn’t a big bag. How shocking to me then to see that there are supposed eight servings in this bag? Are we using serving sizes from back 120 years ago? Color me baffled. Serving sizes aren’t my religion, so let’s move onward.

Opening up the bag, I’m greeted with two competing and distinctive scents, with popcorn being the most prominent. The second, lighter yet lingering scent is that of sugar. It’s pleasant and I’m excited. Looking at this popcorn, you can see the frosting coating on the kernels and they are quite hard to the touch. The coating isn’t even, but the beauty is in the festive sprinkles.

Not being able to wait any longer, I pop one into my mouth and yum. This sugar cookie popcorn is good. It’s not so different than caramel corn, because sugar is the most dominant flavor here. There is no particular flavor to the sprinkles and cookie isn’t the first flavor that comes to mind. That being said, I could see how it would be easy to polish off half of a box of this stuff.

As I continue to eat onwards, the sugar starts to overwhelm me. The flavor of the popcorn doesn’t become unpleasant, but the enjoyability starts to wane. After a little more than a handful, I voluntarily stop eating this. For any reader that knows me, that’s atypical. I love sugar in the sense that I am an addict of it and it’s a dark day when I don’t enjoy the delight of one of my oldest friends. This carb on carb action didn’t whet my whistle.

Overall, the idea of this was better than the execution in my personal opinion. Then I smile and think thank God there is a prize inside! The saving grace for this snack that I now possess 7.5 servings of and hope to never eat again. After digging around for what feels like a sticky eternity, I pull out my prize, specifically my “Holiday Prize” which I do not have to share with my butthead sister (love you.)

Opening it up and I am more heartbroken than any grown woman should be barring a divorce or the discontinuation of her favorite makeup brand. Cracker Jack, are you kidding me?! One gingerbread sticker? While millions of people are spreading holiday cheer, Cracker Jacks is doing their best to spread holiday disappointment and misery one prize at a time. I’d write them an angry letter, but this piece of junk only looks like a stamp. I’m glad I’m not a kid these days, because prizes like these would have me emotionally compromised well before it all started in my teenage years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Peanut Buttery Perfection

Inarguably, I am not the best blogger you have ever met. When it comes to being accountable to sit down regularly and articulate my latest meal, sometimes I fall short. In fairness, I mean to. I think about it and plan to, but then so much time passes since the last time I ate something worth sharing and then I start to feel like a real fraud.  Let’s just say that nobody has ever accused me of being too consistent, but you know what I am? I’m passionate. I love food and the experience of eating so much that the passion oozes out of my pours, like caramel dripping from a Milky Way.

                Kent Nerburn once said, “We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.” Case and point, for the majority of today, I was knee deep in having a typical Tuesday. I was doing the same stuff I always do on Tuesday and I was so busy doing it, that I barely registered what day it was. All of the sudden, overwhelmed by the sense of adventure and spontaneity, there was access to a box of Magnum Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bars and like a flip of a switch, my day was brighter.

                These ice cream bars are described as Peanut butter ice cream dipped in a chocolatey coating, peanut buttery sauce and milk chocolate. First off, there is something to be said for the company deciding to use the word buttery over butter. Peanut butter sauce would have been quite clear, but buttery is such a luxurious word. Buttery, buttery, buttery, feed me.

I have the prejudice that all peanut butter desserts that come prepackaged are never as peanut butter flavored as advertised, so at first glance I was an intrigued skeptic. Another thing I really liked about the packaging was that these came in a three pack, meaning the level of commitment was minimal. Living alone, if I bought these again I wouldn’t be eating these for three weeks straight. With three in a pack, I could polish them off in two days.

                After withstanding the car ride from the grocery store to my belly, I was amazed at how hard the outer shell remained after unwrapping. It actually took me two tries to bite into this, because there are two hard shells of chocolate surrounding the ice cream. Trust me that with my level of excitement, even my first bite had quite the vigor. The outermost layer was the thickest and froze quite significantly. In between the second layer of chocolate, which then coats the ice cream is the peanut “buttery” sauce. WOW, I was not disappointed. The other taste tester kept commenting at how prominent the PB taste really was and I admit that it was overwhelming in the good way. The sauce was so significantly notable that I actually couldn’t even tell that the ice cream was peanut butter flavored.

                It took me longer than normal to eat this ice cream bar because it really was Magnum. The price tag calorically is 340 calories and I think it seemed fair. This was far from a light dessert, but you can really taste and enjoy the decadence here. I am pretty sure that when I was done eating this ice cream I actually expressed, “I feel happy.” Now you can keep your magnum jokes to yourself, but this ice cream really was blissful. Just the excitement of the unexpected treat, something I would have never bought myself took my regular day and made it a good day.

I enjoyed this ice cream and would recommend this for any peanut butter fanatics who just can’t get enough. If you’re on the fence about peanut butter, then you should probably get your head checked (joke), but in seriousness, this ice cream is probably not for you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nitrogen Coffee: Never Again

Iced coffee, hot coffee, frozen coffee, instant coffee – never have I ever had any trouble ingesting more than enough of this stuff. On the contrary, most of my waking hours particularly in the evening are spent fighting myself from having a fifth, sixth, seventh cup. It’s only a matter of time before Dunkin’ Donuts starts offering direct deposit for my paychecks anyhow. One less transaction in my life.

You can only imagine my curiosity when I read about Nitrogen Coffee in the news one day. Talk about reinventing the wheel here. Nitrogen Coffee is described as an iced coffee which is served on tap. From what I have read, this beverage is treated with nitrogen and/or carbon dioxide and kept under high pressure. Normally I get about five or six cups in a day, so this sounded like a welcome addition. Searching my area, I was only able to find this drink available in Manhattan and surprisingly, I only head down there a handful of times per year. Hearing news that this was also available in Pittsburgh, PA where I was lucky enough to visit this past weekend was music to my ears.

Yesterday morning before our return trip home, my Sister and Brother In Law went with me to 21st Street Coffee in the Strip District of Pittsburgh. The neighborhood was really cool, industrial yet full of food. Walking into the coffee shop, it had high ceilings, local art and nothing but beverages. Admittedly, I had no idea what to expect. The drink came in two sizes and as it was my first cup of the day I went straight for the large.

As the barista poured my coffee like it was actually a beer, I noted that there was a foamy head on top to mirror the real thing. I got a serving of 2% milk on the side because the place didn’t carry skim. It should be mentioned that I had really high expectations for this Nitrogen Coffee, but I actually didn’t even end up drinking 25% of it. Between the creamy foam and the abundance of bubbles, I found the drink to be off putting. Adding as much milk as I could, even that didn’t seem to help. This was way closer to tasting like a Guinness than a regular cup of Joe.

It seems to be a really trendy drink and it was certainly on the smoother side as opposed to acidic. This drink is something to try if you like beer in the morning or to say you did it, but I don’t think I’d advise anyone to try this first thing in the morning. Ultimately I left and went down the road to get myself the real thing. I don’t want to rag on a new trend that I was particularly excited to try, but even if it was free I would pass up drinking another glass of this stuff.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Flip Your Lid: Chobani Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Harvest Crisp Flip

Twenty eight years as a primary candidate for anger management who spends her time trying not to flip sits down at the breakfast table before 8AM EST on a Sunday and is encouraged by a yogurt company to do exactly that. Imagine that? I promise the likely one reader that this blog has that this is not a pumpkin blog. That being said, it’s only natural that consumer packaged goods companies step up their seasonal game during the fall and announce the introduction of pumpkin flavored everything to their product lines. I’m just human, born without any real will power to resist.

Cue: Chobani Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Harvest Crisp Flip, which is described as pumpkin low-fat yogurt with pie crust pieces, pecans and glazed pumpkin seeds. Besides the contempt that I hold in my heart for Greek Yogurt, I like every piece to this puzzle here. There’s a rule of thumb in my head that if you add pie crust pieces to anything, your mind will blow. If I had to wake up and eat yogurt, then hell let’s dress it up like a dessert.

The contents of this yogurt racks up to 210 calories, which is reasonable enough by my calorie counting (lack of) standards. Since I wasn’t blown away last year by Chobani’s pumpkin yogurt, I easily moderated my expectations here. If my memory serves me, which it rarely does these days, my biggest issue with last year’s yogurt was that it wasn’t sweet. As a self-proclaimed sugar addict, I was left feeling want.

Opening the lid to this thing, I thought “Oh God.” This yogurt does not appeal to your eye. The expiration date was far in the future and perhaps this container suffered from natural settling over the time, but there was water sitting on top of the yogurt and at first sight, I would describe the innards here as looking very “tired”.

To get a good sense of what I was looking into, I reluctantly tasted the pumpkin yogurt alone and WOW. This is not the same pumpkin yogurt that broke my heart last year. This should be more accurately described as low-fat pumpkin pie yogurt as the base. The missing sweetness was here as if to say, “I’m sorry I’m late. I was stuck in traffic, but I’m here now.”  Just this season I had a spoonful of the plain pumpkin yogurt container and that is NOT this, but this is really something enjoyable

When it came to “flipping” the container, I couldn’t get it done. The plastic wasn’t malleable enough and at this early hour I was far from tempted to have to clean the contents up off the floor if I got too mavericky. Like any person desperate to stop thinking and start eating, I took my spoon and slowly laid out the contents atop the yogurt.

There were ample toppings provided and even once it was completely mixed up, each bite contained something special. The pie crust was broken into very small pieces but the flavor was noticed by my palette and made me feel happy in my belly. The pecans were the run of the mill and as a pecan fan, that was pleasant as well.

Perhaps the most surprising ingredient here was the candied sunflower seeds. While they were sugar coated and had nearly a smoky flavor, they also brought a significant element of salt. I enjoyed this, but admittedly it was a bit of a tongue whiplash. I would be curious what another taste tester of this yogurt might conclude about this.

Overall in combination of low expectations and pie crust, I enjoyed this yogurt. Normally I eat yogurt to be healthy and this certainly lended itself more to being a reasonable dessert. Either way, while I wouldn’t seek this out specifically, I would happily eat this again.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Anything but Basic: Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M's

You know what I hate? Popular slang. Two weeks ago a friend of mine called me a “basic bitch” after I said that I was excited for Pumpkin Pie Dairy Queen Blizzards this fall. At the time I had no idea what that meant and my first thought was, “There’s nothing basic about how bitchy I can be,” but now I have further information and since when did enjoying seasonal eats with enthusiasm become “basic”? Usually I am behind by at least six months on whatever is current (I still pay people with checks) and I think I will gladly be the most basic of bitches, so long as this bitch’s basic belly is filled with anything pumpkin.

There were a lot of things about 2014 that impressed me, but one thing that fell a little short for me were Pumpkin Spice M&M’s. While I only managed to have a handful, I remember some type of a spicy burning aftertaste and I would go to great lengths to avoid having a similar experience again. I’d consider biting into a handful of potpourri before eating those on another occasion. At least then I would have a funny story.

Hearing that this year’s edition of M&M’s would become Pumpkin Spice Latte, I was a quick forgive. My hands were ready to leave the melting to my mouth. "Sign me up!" I thought. On my first trip to Target after reading about them, I was delighted to find a large bag available for purchase and I was surprised that the bag was so lackluster. Where are the leaves? Why is this so beige? Why does this “candy coated woman” look so blasé? If she’s not impressed, then my hopes were already dashed.

Opening the bag and taking a whiff, I could smell the sweet candy scent of any M&M’s that must be attributed to the coloring and the shell. My nose was also able to detect a tease of a coffee smell, but the pumpkin could not yet be detected. Let me be clear, I am better with my mouth than nose, without a doubt. The coloring chosen for these were reminiscent of fall leaves and the actual size of the M&M’s were a little larger than your typical M&M’s.

It’s not too hard for a company to flavor something and market it as pumpkin. Add some sugar and allspice and basically that candly effervescent scent and flavor will tell your palette it’s pumpkin. The best part about these is for certain the latte flavor, which was particularly strong. I found the pumpkin to be a smooth supplement to the taste. Biting into these, as the center is larger than normal, the shell to chocolate ratio is less but in a way that makes these seem to be a bit fudgier to bite into than normal.

These candies would fare well with a nice cup of steaming hot coffee. Maybe the woman on the wrapper was not impressed by the contents, but I certainly was. I found these M&M’s to be particularly enjoyable and I am hoping to eat them again before the season is over.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Great Friends and Good Desserts: The Cookie Dough Cafe Edible Cookie Dough

There's some old adage that infers that true friend are the gardeners of our soul. Time to time, when I am struck by the sheer delight of sincere friendship, I understand what that actually means. When you're out and things are good and it's all fun, it's always impressive to see how many people want to be around you. Through some of the trials in my coming of age, I have learned that I have some of the best and truest friends. 

Facing a new work week, with the weekend winding down, I've always thought Sunday to be something of a bummer. Usually I'm alone with a pile of laundry, avoiding exercise but with excess time on my hands. Idle time leads to too much thinking and I'm certain most people understand a case of the Sundays even if they won't go ahead and admit it.

Starting a few years ago, a couple of times a month, this idle Sunday time began to be filled with two of the most amazing people who share my love for dessert, being mellow, talking about Catfish and really anything else that comes up. They never get on my case about trans fats, saturated fats, processed foods, or anything else nutrition related. It's always positive and I'm always thankful.

Last Sunday was no exception to this. After heading out for ice cream at the Blue Pig, we were sitting outside and I was lamenting about my mistake of only ordering two scoops. My mind raced to a dessert my friend Graig had mentioned last month that he has tried, to be described only as a "gourmet edible cookie dough dessert", which is produced by a company who goes by The Cookie Dough Cafe for resale. As I bring this up Barbara interjects and looks at her husband Graig knowingly.

For some background, I was alerted the month prior of this cookie dough dessert that was highly recommended and located only at this market that had hours that made it largely inaccessible to me. As it turns out, last Sunday they had bought it for me to try and had forgotten to mention it. In the most understanding and non-judgmental way, we left the ice cream scoop shop and went back to their place so I could try this long awaited albeit second dessert.

Before starting in, Barbara had mentioned to me that the best part about this cookie dough was that for your caloric buck, you were able to have a few spoonfuls and feel quiet satisfied; this point will become pertinent after I further explain. They reluctantly posed for the photo below, but this is the kind of happily surprising moment you want to be able to remember the next time you're battling a true case of the Sundays.

To be fair, after a delicious dinner and a trip out for ice cream my tummy was already a bit full. The container of this chocolate chip cookie dough seemed to indicate that this was single serve because there was no way to reseal. In delight, I noted that no nutritional information was available on my packaging and as a woman eating her second dessert of the evening I was smart enough not to ask about it.

Being that I'm not a parent and have no better judgement, it really never even dawned on me the real threat of eating the raw egg in cookie dough. It's just never a thought I've had. That being said, the only readers of this blog are people who know me and you can probably recognize that I wouldn't be able to help myself even if I had known. It's a nice thought to sell the cookie dough with the intent of safe eating. For kids or people with autoimmune diseases, this is probably really a big food safety win.

Texture wise, this dessert was very enjoyable. The dough had the crystal texture that you find in the traditional dough as you encounter the sugar in the bites of dough. Chocolate chips were aplenty too, enhancing the already rich cookie flavor. I'd be curious myself what would happen if you were to try to bake the stuff. Goopy is not a word in English, but I did note in my bites that without the egg, this dough was less of that - not quite adhering together like the traditional dough.

To get back to Barbara's point, as I nibbled onward, the flavor began to intensify and my tummy filled quickly. Next time I would add vanilla ice cream or maybe a brownie to cut the flavor, as this is quite rich and a little does in fact go a long way. Towards the end of the cup, I nearly had to leave some dough behind for no other reason than a lack of space. It's not the type of defeat I like to face.

Graig mentioned there are more flavors of this stuff available and I am going to make it a point to purchase and try them. The flavor was good and the concept is a nice change from your traditional desserts. It's good to know that certain food companies are in business to try to save me from myself.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review: Dunkin' Maple Glazed Bacon Donut

Some days you are just lost. You stare into the face of monotony and say, “You win.” You buck up and accept your fate of commuting to life inside of a cubicle and you pause to wonder why nobody told you that this would be how adult life is. Every day is Ground Hog’s day. This realization comes to me about once a week, usually on Tuesdays and then I forget this feeling at some point on Fridays in the afternoon; rinse, repeat.

Sure there are events that happen that add spice and levity to the everyday and these are like meteorites sent down to you through the atmosphere. This is what happened to me on my nearly daily trip to CVS to buy something else that I can’t remember and surely didn’t need. Usually once I’m done making my superfluous purchase, I swing by the local Dunkin’ Donuts for an afternoon iced coffee. The saddest part is that sometimes this is actually the highlight of my day.

On this day, walking into the Dunkin’, I would be hit with said meteorite. Opening the door, I was confronted with a large poster encouraging me to try a maple bacon square donut. How hadn’t I heard of this? I’m in the store daily, I’m a loyalty card member who receives weekly product emails and I spend the majority of my free time researching newly introduced junk foods? Feeling pretty hungry, I was apprehensive that I might just be seeing a water mirage in the desert of starvation, but there would be only one way to find out.

Salivating, I proceeded onward. My normal order was supplemented with this Godsend and the only thing left to do was to eat it. At first glance, I was surprised and happy to see the substantial amount of bacon placed on top. Not only was Dunkin’ generous in distribution, but the bacon itself was quite thick cut. I didn’t have one bite that wasn’t supplemented with the stiff bacon. Obviously, the bacon wasn’t hot so it was a bit on the milder side and surprisingly not at all salty but I would argue that this is exactly what this donut needed.

Even better than the bacon was the donut. It reminded me of a marble frosted donut, perhaps because of the maple component and it was extra heavily glazed. There is a maple frosting drizzled on top of the bacony square which is pleasing both aesthetically and to the palette. This worked in the donut’s flavor as the bacon alone would have been on the drier side. Imagine bacon on top of your buttery syrupy pancakes. This isn’t an exaggeration, the donut itself was amazing. It struck me as quite fresh and I loved that it had square corners. Maybe all in my head, but it was fun to bite the corners of the thing on the first bite.

Overall, I really enjoyed this donut and would eat it again at any opportunity. Maybe my pleasure resulting from eating this has something to do with me not having any expectations as I had no idea that Dunkin’ was even coming out with this? Either way, it took my weekday from good enough to great.

The moral of the story is to look tedium in the face and just know that you may walk straight into a bacon maple donut meteorite so don’t let daily life get you too glum. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bacon + Chocolate Ganache = Trader Joes Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar

Being a big reader of blogs myself, I was more than a little enthused when reading about the availability of a chocolate ganache bacon bar. I’ll take chocolate any way I can get it, but I am most certainly partial to ganache. Generally speaking I like the cacao count high and my cake to be flourless. If somebody around here would melt fudge directly into my open mouth, that would be optimal.

Trader Joe’s has introduced an Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar, which is 70% cacao and is described on the labeling as “A rich combination of dark chocolate ganache and a hint of smoked salt.” About five years ago, I remember when the chocolate and bacon combination really took off. What was first unique and boutique is now simply good. The basic principle of life: take two good things and combine them and they’re even better.

What I liked about this bar is that it was not at all what I was expecting. Originally I figured that it would be a dark chocolate bar with pieces of bacon dispersed throughout and maybe some sea salt sprinkled on top, but it was so much more complex than that. Reading the nutritionals, I was surprised to see that this bar, which was not small – albeit light was only two servings. That was encouraging. I never feel bad eating two servings and the guilt starts to set in at three.

Opening the packaging, you can see the eight neat looking dark squares and you don’t even know what you’re in for. I was surprised to see that the smoky salt was not at all on the outside of the bar. My curiosity raged on. Taking a bite I was shocked to find that each square was actually a thin layer of chocolate over a very liquid center. The filling had a mouth feel which was very fatty and tasted is of chocolate, bacon and salt. There were no legitimate pieces of bacon, which led me to believe that much of the bacon taste came from liquid bacon fat. Written, that sounds gross but in your mouth it’s luxurious. There were maybe one or two tiny bits of bacon in my entire bar experience. There was a smoky and smooth taste to the liquid chocolate, providing complex flavor waves.

Besides the uniqueness, the best part of this bar for me was the actual chocolate. It had a high quality taste and was particularly dark for only 70% cacao. This was the type of bar that wouldn’t replace my regular chocolate fix, but it was enjoyable and certainly a conversation piece. It would have paired nicely with vanilla ice cream, because the filling was a bit syrupy in nature. Hats off to Trader Joe’s for continually coming up with new decadent items to blog about. Keep them coming.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The BEST thing I have blogged about this year: BLVD Tasty Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream

It was bound to happen sometime. Late last Friday night when all of my peers were either out at the bar or sitting home with their screaming children, I was that woman sitting in Whole Foods eating a pint of ice cream. As people walked by, I could hear their thoughts, “How sad, that woman can’t even wait to get home before she starts eating her pint. She must be an addict”

Here it is. I’ve arrived. What the onlookers probably didn’t know was that this pint was the best tasting thing I have ever blogged about. Heard that? I already know that I won’t be able to articulate well enough how phenomenal this ice cream was and that’s probably for the best because I don’t want everyone buying it all up.

When it comes to cheesecake, it’s not my favorite. About once a year I get a really strong craving for it, have a slice and then that itch is scratched for a time. About a month ago I started to feel the hankering. Whole Foods has a really interesting selection of food, but what I don’t like is that so much of their freezer isle is now Vegan. Cutting out animal products is a beautiful thing for people who choose to live their life that way, but what about the rest of us? Please don’t give away all of my dairy filled freezer space, Whole Foods. Just remember who loved you first.

For no reason more than the surprisingly slim pickings, I choose “BLVD Tasty Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream”. To start, I took issue with the fact that tasty was in the name. It makes me disgruntled that no matter the outcome, I will have to refer to it with that adjective. With the exception of that potential misnomer, I enjoyed the packaging. It looked clean and attractive to me and it was easily the longest that I’ve ever stared at a pint, sitting at that table in Whole Foods, avoiding eye contact with onlookers as I dove into the pint like there was no tomorrow.

The ice cream is described as fudge brownies in cream cheese ice cream. Cream cheese is one of my favorite things and I was intrigued that this wasn’t called cheesecake ice cream. There is absolutely nothing “cake” about this. One of my favorite parts of this pint was the consistency of the ice cream itself. Simply, it was like whipped, frozen cream cheese. That was it. It wasn’t overly sweet and it was maybe even a little icy but the mouth feel was like biting into a cloud in Heaven.

This is bold, but I would give this an award for being top 5 ice creams I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. I’ve had SO much ice cream, so I can’t stress how much that means. Sorry Ben & Jerry’s, there’s a new love in town.

To note, the brownies were more of an afterthought. They weren’t frozen solid which was nice, but they weren’t a deep chocolate flavor either. They were good in the way that eating decent French fries with the world’s best burger might be. There was no way they could even compare to the star of the show here. There were tiny pieces of brownies spread throughout the ice cream and a few larger chunks here and there. Either way, they didn’t bring all that much to the party but I didn’t mind.

If you enjoy rich cream cheese, then this ice cream is for you. You won’t regret it. Stereotypes be damned, this ice cream is worth any stigma of being that lady who spends her weekend nights downing 1,600 calories in ten minutes of ice cream in public places. You’re welcome.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On Fire: Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

I’m awkward. There’s absolutely no way that I will be able to write an entire review about Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos without saying some unintended x-rated awkwardness that my one or two regular readers will undoubtedly pick up on. Really Frito-Lays? We couldn’t have called these Spicy Crunchy Cheetos and then called it a day?

Fighting the flaming hotness is futile and somebody probably should have told me this pertaining to social interactions as early as middle school. Don’t let my puffy hair fool you, when it comes to Cheetos, I would pick crunchy over puffed any time. Knowing that, before even trying these I took the guess that adding heat (which I like) to crunchy Cheetos (which I like) would equal something that I like; thank you Lincoln Titus Elementary School for that basic math principle.

11:30AM EST and lo and behold it’s time for some chips. As you can see from this photo, the Cheeto itself is thin and long, looking nearly identical to the standard crunchy Cheeto. You can’t have a fire without a spark and the heat from this thing is the red powder dusted on the surface. Just like with the original, the powdered cheese and in this case “powdered heat” ends up all over your fingers, so you’re licking them clean with a remaining slight tint of red. I love this. I forgot how detectable eating Cheetos was because of the way it dyes your fingers the color of the chip as a part of the aftermath. Natural food never does that for you. +1 point for processed foods.

Unlike every other food that I’ve reviewed for this blog, the second the Cheeto hit my tongue I detected the heat. It should be mentioned that I had just finished a container of plain Greek yogurt and the person with whom the bag was shared said that the heat was more of a slow build. I have to wonder if my cool snack prior had anything to do with it. Being a fan of heat myself, I thought that these chips were adequately “flaming”.

Something else that rocks about these was  the way the bag came more filled than your typical chips bag. In general, Cheetos are pretty well known for delivering in this way. The labeling said that there were 3.5 servings in the bag and that was a gross overestimation of servings as serving size suggestions typically go.

Overall these were good and delivered the heat promised. I have a lot of love in my heart for chips in general. Cheetos are not my go to chip, however if they were available, I would gladly eat these again.