Review of Dr. Praeger’s All-American Burger

I finally bit the bullet and got this burger. For $3.79 for two patties, compared to our patties like their other offerings, I’ve been putting off buying this product. Fortunately, I caught it on sale at the store for $3 and decided it was time to put it to the test.

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Frozen patty

The first thing I noticed was that it was definitely bigger in size compared to the other Dr. Praeger patties. It also looks and smells the closest to an actual beef burger. No grill lines like the picture, but maybe I needed to use an actual grill. For this review, I decided to cook it in my toaster oven at 450° F. I picked this method because it seemed like the healthiest option and I have had past success with using the oven on their other patties. One thing to note is that the burger takes 17 minutes to cook all the way (9 minutes on one side and you flip it for the other 8 minutes) compared to the 12 minutes for the other patties.

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My assembled burger

How did it taste? First off, I wished I had an actual burger bun. Mostly because it seems to call for something more substantial. Even an English toast muffin would have been better. It reminded me of a falafel in terms of looks with a greenish-brown filling. The burger itself definitely has a meatier taste compared to the other patties, but doesn’t replicate the taste of beef. The exterior was very crunchy, though I blame myself for leaving it in the oven a bit longer (one of the perils of using an oven is forgetting about it!). One thing that separates it from the other patties I’ve had from the company is that it is very filling. I felt all 23 of those grams of protein!

Would I recommend it? For the price, it is more expensive compared to the other patties , but you’re getting a product that is getting close to an actual beef burger. I would also wager it would still cost less than getting getting a veggie burger at a restaurant. It’s also soy free so it’s definitely a great option for those averse or allergic to soy. As long as you don’t leave it in the oven too long, it should be good and even then I liked the crispiness of the burger. Overall, I give it a 3.5/5.

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Dark Chocolate Japanese Kit Kats

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to review the dark chocolate Kit Kats from Japan. I’ve reviewed matcha, dark chocolate with pepper, but never plain dark chocolate. Especially since I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate (and definitely against white chocolate). Well, that ends today as I do a quickie review of this flavor of Kit Kat.

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First things first, this flavor is not limited to Japan. In the U.S., Hershey (as I’ve mentioned before makes American Kit Kats) does have a dark chocolate version of the candy. Compared to the milk and white chocolate versions, I much prefer the dark chocolate version.

That being said, there is a difference in taste between Japan’s version and the one in the U.S. The U.S. version is pretty standard dark chocolate. No real “wow” factor, but it does its job. When I tasted the Japanese version, I was struck by the coffee flavor. This was odd seeing as how there’s no coffee anywhere in the ingredient list, but there was definitely something different in this Kit Kat that separated it from its American counterpart.

If you’re wondering which was better, you’ll be disappointed to hear me say that it depends on your personal taste. For me, the Japanese version edges out the American version, but barely. I’d recommend trying both to see which one fits your palate. Cost wise, you may want to stick with American version as it is cheaper and it’s no worse than the Japanese version.

Overall, I give the candy a 5/5.

 

Foodie Friday: Blue Dahlia’s Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is one of those desserts I don’t really think about until I see it at a party or it’s offered to me. Maybe it’s because it’s so rich or it’s not as easily accessible as brownies or ice cream, but I don’t usually seek it out. That changed a few Fridays ago when on my cheat day (a day where I indulge), I decided to try dessert at the Blue Dahlia Bistro in San Marcos.

 

When I looked at the menu, I was tempted to get the brownie since it’s a relatively safe bet. Ultimately, I took a chance on the bread pudding and I was not disappointed. First, thing I noticed was that it was big. The waiter serving me said it was, but like the Grand Canyon you have to see it to believe it. Second, it came out nice and warm that the ice cream was starting to melt on top of it. I’ll admit, the ice cream was a bit much, but hey, cheat day.

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The real question is how does it taste and I can say it tasted amazing. The pudding had a nice crisp on the top and was soft and warm in the center. The rum flavor was very present throughout the pudding, but it didn’t overwhelm me with its flavor. The fruit and ice cream were a great addition, complimenting the pudding without overwhelming it. This is personal, but I’m glad the restaurant didn’t put raisins in their pudding.

Now, was it worth the price at $8.50 ($6 without the ice cream) before tax? Honestly, yes. While definitely more expensive than getting a McDonald’s apple pie, you’re getting a hefty amount of pudding. I had to actually take some home with me! (By the way, it still tastes pretty good after a day)

Overall, I would give this a 5/5 and would definitely recommend this dessert if you’re feeling something that will warm you right up.

Foodie Friday: Chicken Enchiladas Poblano

I’m going to be real with y’all. The only reason I picked this up was because there was a coupon at my grocery store for $1.50 off. For me, spending $4 for a single frozen dinner is a bit much and I normally would pass over this company. But for $2.50? I’ll give it a go.

One thing that made me pick this item up besides the sale was the nutrition*. The sodium level wasn’t the worse in comparison to other frozen dinners (I saw one dinner that had around 800 mg of sodium!) and the saturated fat wasn’t as high as I thought it would be for this dish. Plus, I was interested in having a certified halal meal.

Enchilada Box side

So what about the taste? Pretty good. It reminds me of Amy’s Kitchen frozen food selection which also touts the same message of natural food. Starting with the sides, the black beans nothing to write about. They tasted like they were popped right out of the can. Nothing wrong with canned beans, but I was hoping for a bit more flavor. Maybe the flavor went to the rice which had a buttery taste with a nice amount of garlic seasoning. It did taste a tad undercooked, but that could have been my microwave.

As for the main dish, the enchiladas are a definite winner. Despite having poblano chile sauce, the dish wasn’t too spicy. More like a hint though sometimes I got bites of something spicier. If you like cheese, you’ll definitely like this one as they didn’t skimp on the cheese. The spinach seemed to be creamy in texture, though that could be due to the sauce and the cheese, that mixed with shredded chicken created a very smooth texture. I would recommend eating the beans with the enchilada so that you won’t be eating bland beans.

And if you’re wondering if there’s a difference in it being halal, I honestly didn’t taste any difference. If you want to understand what halal is, you can read more here.

One potential con for some folks is the price. Like I said earlier, this meal is usually around $4, but I got it for around 2.50 with a coupon. It’s also not the quickest frozen meal. Overall, it took me 7 minutes from start to finish (and that’s not including the time you wait for it to cool off). Not the cheapest frozen dinner out there, but it’s on par with the prices at some fast food places and you’re probably getting less saturated fat and sodium.

Overall, I give it a 3.5/5 and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a halal meal.

*I am not a nutritionist. Please consult a professional about whether this dish would actually fit in with your diet. I’m going off what I’ve read.

Foodie Friday: Return of the O

After a decade and a slew of different flavored cookies (by the way the red velvet ones are great), Oreos are now back in cereal form with Oreo O’s. This time in a box the size of two family size cereal boxes. For those of y’all who were too young or weren’t even born, Oreo O’s was a cereal that launched in 1998 (I’ve seen 1997 on Wikipedia) as a joint product between Post Cereals and Kraft Foods with Post having the recipe and Kraft having the rights to the name. It was discontinued in 2007 everywhere except South Korea (I was tempted to try and order some through Amazon) due to Kraft selling Post off to Ralcorp Holdings and thus losing the rights to the recipe of the cereal and Post not having the copyright of the name.

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But on June 23, 2017, Post released the cereal exclusively to Wal-Mart for three months. According to AdAge, the big retailer was the one who pushed for Oreo O’s to make a comeback after noticing high sales in what they considered “indulgent” cereals. If you’re wondering what in the world that means, they’re referring to cereals that aren’t the most nutritious, but are sweet and delicious (think about the time they offered a marshmallow-only box of Lucky Charms). Remember folks, it’s not that us Millennials aren’t eating cereal, we just prefer it as a snack than our breakfast.

For me, Oreo O’s is a more nostalgic cereal of the time when my dad was an active military member and we would have to eat at hotels in between moves. I still remember pouring a bowl into the plastic bowls we used while traveling while watching Saturday morning television next to my brother in our hotel room. It was only natural that I did a review on the product that is said to be “better than ever”.

I don’t know if I can say it’s better than ever, but it’s certainly still good.

 

First thing, this is not a healthy cereal and frankly, I don’t need it to be a healthy cereal. This is a cereal you eat for dessert because you want something that’s both sweet, yet quick and easy, it’s cheat day, or maybe you’re just not in a great mood.  It’s just as sweet as a regular Oreo cookie that you can eat with or without milk. It’s also great for those who like the cookies, but hate the creme in the middle (yes, there are folks who don’t like the creme. I’m related to one of them).

My only complaint is that the box is so huge. I’m guessing they’re trying to gauge the popularity of the cereal, but a smaller 12oz box would have sufficed. (Lord knows I’m not about to eat that cereal every morning!) I suppose if you like to make simple baked goods, you could try to make some cereal bars with the cereal or use it as a pie crust.

Overall, I give it a 4.5/5 and definitely recommend giving it a shot despite the size of the box. I’m pretty sure the cereal isn’t going to expire too quickly.

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Foodie Friday: Starbucks Iced Tea Infusions

[This is not a sponsored post.]

For those not in the know, I love tea. From the sugared-up Southern style iced tea to the humble hot peppermint tea, I always make it a point to have at least one cup each day. So of course I decided to try Starbucks new products, the Iced Tea Infusion. These teas are infused with fruits and are advertised as not using any artificial flavors or sweeteners. Currently, they have peach citrus infused white tea, strawberry infused green tea, and pineapple infused black tea. You can also get them with lemonade.

So far I’ve only had the peach white tea (which I got for free during their promotion a few weeks back) and strawberry green tea because at $3.25 (without taxes) for a grande, it’s not a justifiable daily expense when you can buy a box of around 20 sachets for the same price. Still, fruit infused tea sounded nice and I haven’t quite figured out how to replicate it myself.

First, things first, I want to note that I didn’t get either of the teas sweetened (which would put the tea at 11 grams of sugar for a grande size). With that out of the way, let’s talk about the peach infused tea.

Of the two teas, this one is currently in the running as my favorite. I’m a huge fan of peach flavored teas and this tea did not disappoint me. The peach was strong enough to remind that yes, this is a peach tea, but isn’t as overpowering as artificial peach flavoring can be (by the way I’m not opposed to artificial flavoring). Pairing it with white tea was a good call as white tea is a lighter flavor than green and black teas. I will admit, I couldn’t taste the citrus in the tea. It could be that the peach was an overpowering flavor. I wasn’t bothered by it and the idea of citrus and peach doesn’t seem like it would yield a pleasant taste. Overall, I give it a 4/5.

Next is the strawberry infused green tea and boy howdy, does it live up to first part of its name! Even the foam at the top tasted like strawberries! Personally, I’m glad I didn’t sweeten this drink because the strawberries provided a good amount of sweetness. It also tasted refreshing and it may be due to the real strawberries used.

One thing that surprised me was how the green tea didn’t stand out. While green tea is certainly more milder than matcha, it’s still has a distinct taste. Maybe the strawberries were too strong for it. I personally would have paired it with a black tea, but I actually like the taste of black tea. Overall, I give it a 4/5.

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I would definitely recommend trying these teas at least once, especially if you’re not the biggest tea drinker. It’s refreshing and a great way to cool off this summer.

Foodie Friday: Japanese Kit-Kat

I’ve done quite a few reviews about Japanese Kit-Kats on this blog. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that I think the candies are better made overseas because Nestle does the Kit-Kats rather than Hershey who does the American Kit-Kats. You can especially see the difference here with this Kit-Kat inspired by the Chocolatory, a store in Japan that specializes in Kit-Kats.

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This candy is made with milk chocolate and has cranberries and almonds embedded on the top. It doesn’t have a big wow factor like the ones with pepper, but it’s a satisfying treat when you’re craving some chocolate.

What stood out to me was how different the candy was from American Kit-Kats even when you account for the almonds and cranberries. Despite having milk chocolate, the Japanese Kit-Kat is not as sweet as its American counterpart and you could be forgiven for thinking it was dark chocolate.

To see if it was just me, I’ve had a few others try the candy. My mom, who vastly prefers dark chocolate over milk chocolate, found the candy to be enjoyable and not as sweet as American Kit-Kats. I found the same response with others who tried the candy.

That made me wonder if we Americans are getting cheated from quality Kit-Kats because Nestle decided to lease out the name to Hershey (you can read about the deal here). Or perhaps it was just this particular Kit-Kat inspired by an even fancier Kit-Kat one can only get from Japan. Whatever the reason, my quest to sample Kit-Kats and other candies from around the world continues.

P.S. I purchased this bag from MT Supermarket in Austin, TX. Check your local Asian food store or try Amazon or eBay.

Foodie Friday: Oh Joy, La Croix!

I think we can all agree that soda is pretty worthless. Oh sure, it’s tasty, but what does it do for us? It provides no nutrition (with loads of sugar to boot) and it doesn’t even satiate our hunger like other junk food. And it looks like the rest of America is realizing that too if the falling sales are any proof. Is it any wonder some are switching to sparkling waters with French sounding names? I know I’m now one of the converted of La Croix (pronounced La-Croy).

Like any good foodie millennial, I discovered La Croix at my local Target. They had the individual cans near the checkout area in a few different flavors. As someone who ahs been watching my sugar intake, but misses the fizzy goodness of soda, I decided to give the fruit flavored sparkling water a try.

It was a shock to my system when I took my first sip. Maybe it was my association of fruit with sweetness or its appearance looking like Sprite, but my face screwed up at the lack of sugar. It wasn’t necessarily bitter as so much different. I would have given up on the beverage if it wasn’t for my plan of having a healthier lifestyle so I continued to try more La Croix drinks.

My tip for those who want to give sparkling water a chance is that you have to keep drinking it. Try a can per week so you can get acclimated to having a fizzy drink without sugar. When I drank the stuff frequently (along with limiting my intake of sugar), I found myself enjoying the drink more.  If continual exposure isn’t working for you, I’d suggest adding some fruit into your drink to sweeten it up. I’d also suggest looking into different flavors. I’m a fan of the peach and pear La Croix.

Overall, I give La Croix as a brand an A- with points taken off for the pronunciation.

J.L. Explores…..Japanese Kit-Kats Part Deux

This month I continued my exploration of sweets from other countries with another sample box of Kit-Kats from Japan. Now, an interesting story about this package is that I thought I got the wrong one. The box was for the Pepper flavored Kit-Kat and I had to contact the people who sold it. Turns out the assortment was put in a different box. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the apple and cheesecake flavored Kit-Kats and got another Sweet Purple Potato flavor. I did get a new flavor with an Easter Rabbit on it so not a complete loss.

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The first one I tried was the one with the Easter Rabbit on it (and yes, Texas heat struck us all and melted the candies.) Of all the flavors I tried I could not place this one and the only flavor that seemed to match the packaging was the 2015 Easter edition that was supposed to taste like apple pie. While sweet, I certainly couldn’t detect any hint of apples. If you know what flavor this one is, please let me know.

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The second was the Azuki Bean/Nagoya Red Bean Sandwich. Now I have tried a red bean pastry before so I had an idea of what the flavor was supposed to be like. This candy tasted exactly like it that I had to wonder what Willy Wonka magic they pulled to get that flavor. I also wondered what they did to my taste buds because I actually liked the flavor.

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The third one was the Chili Pepper/Yawataya Togarashi Kit-Kat that lives up to its name. By first glance, smell, and taste you would think it’s just normal dark chocolate. You bite into it and you get dark chocolate and you wonder if maybe they got this wrong until the pepper comes up to punch you in the tongue. As for the actual flavor, it’s not a bad flavor. Or at least whatever wasn’t being overwhelmed by spice. It’s also not that sweet either.

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Lastly, we have the Rum Raisin. For this candy I went to the cabinet to find some rum extract that I could smell and taste to see how closely the Kit-Kat got to that taste.Let me be the first one to say that tasting rum extract is a terrible idea as I found myself gagging, reminding myself I was doing it for the sake of those who would read this review. So dear explorers, the Rum Raisin Kit-Kat is accurate if a bit on the sweeter side. The candy coating threw me off as I was expecting a brown color rather than the cream color in the package.

Final Thoughts:

I think the Rum Raisin would be loved by most Americans though the Chili Pepper would have a place with the foodie/adventurous Americans. Red Bean would be more niche, in particular in areas with a high Asian population.

As for me, my favorite was the Red Bean. Not sure if it’s being a mature twenty-something but I much prefer candies that aren’t too sweet or will kill my tongue and Red Bean fits the mold. My least favorite was the one with the Easter Rabbit on the package if only because the flavor was bland and much too sweet.

As always if you want to try Japanese Kit-Kats you can buy them on Amazon, eBay, or any website and local store that specializes in Japanese snacks and food. If you do try some, please tell me your thoughts. What were your favorites? Least favorites?