Is it just my imagination or is there no flavor? A review of Starbucks’ juniper latte.

It may not officially be Winter, but that’s not going to stop Christmas from busting on in. To get myself ready I decided to try Starbucks’ new drink, juniper latte.

One thing I want to note is that I had my latte made with almond milk so it’s possible the flavor may change depending on what kind milk or milk substitute you get.

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First, it’s not remarkable looking. Granted, there’s only so much you can do to a latte so I have no feelings whatsoever about it. But if you wanted to do an Instagram post like the Unicorn frappuchino you’re out of luck. Take a picture of the cup and do #MerryChristmas. The only thing I saw that separated it from the regular latte were the green specks that I may have imagined being there. Let me know if you see them.

According to Starbucks, the Juniper latte is supposed to have a “light, pine-like flavor with delightful citrus undertones”. The only part of that description I agree about it is the “light” and “undertone” part because all I tasted was coffee and my heated up almond milk. There might have been a taste of a tree in there, but it could have been my imagination.

I wasn’t the only one who was underwhelmed by this latte. One guy found the latte not that great with the juniper taste and one lady found the taste to be too subtle. I like to note that we all went to different Starbucks in different areas so it looks like the juniper latte may be a dud.

Overall, I give a 3/5 for at least not tasting terrible. If you had the latte, let me know your thoughts in the comments. As for me, I’m sticking with my chestnut praline latte.

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Foodie Friday: Trentino Artisan Gelato

It may be Fall, but it still feels like Summer. That means it’s still frozen dessert weather (though I argue you can have ice cream any time you want). Before I move to warm drinks and apple flavored everything, I’m reviewing a new brand of gelato I had recently.

If you haven’t heard of Trentino Gelato, don’t worry. They’re a Houston-based company and from what I can find most of their products are sold in Texas.  What made the product stand out to me was that they used goat’s milk. As someone who’s not exactly tolerating the lactose like I did in the past I’ve been looking into goat’s milk as an alternative (I’ve already try almond milk based frozen dessert). And when I saw that my local store had a coupon I knew I had to try it (shout out to all my coupon lovers!)

First, the sweet milk. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what possessed me to get this flavor instead of something more recognizable like strawberry. The name alone intrigued me. Either way, I’m glad I bought this flavor.

I was pleased that the pops themselves weren’t too small. For comparison, I placed my 7″ x 3″ hand (why yes, I did measure my hand) by the pop. As for the flavor, it pretty much lives up to its name. It was definitely sweet and very creamy, but the sweetness wasn’t overpowering and I think that’s because of the goat’s milk. I give it a 4/5.

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Next, I purchased the Vanilla flavor.

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I’ll be honest, I almost freaked out when I saw the black specks until I remembered that the specks were vanilla. After that rather embarrassing moment, I dug right into the pop.

I definitely rank the vanilla over the sweet milk flavor. Despite its reputation, vanilla has a very distinct flavor that when done right makes for an enjoyable experience and Trentino nails it. I recommend if you’re hesitant about trying these pops to go with the vanilla pop first. I give it a 4.5/5.

My only complaint, and it could be just me being cheap, is the price. Before the coupon, the gelato pops would sell for around $5 (I paid around $4). For three pops each, this could seem very steep. I would argue that since they are made of goat’s milk that the price is worth it. I also argue that it’s probably a better deal at roughly $2 per pop than going to a gelato or ice cream shop and spending $3 to $5 for a few scoops.

If you live in Texas or you’re visiting, I say give these pops a shot. They’re a nice, sweet treat and probably won’t be as harsh for those who are lactose intolerant.

 

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.

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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