Orville Redenbacher’s Cheddar Cheese Popcorn

Sometimes, I have a movie night in my dorm, so at the end of the week, when I have my work done, or when I have none of my work done, I kick up my feet and relax with a film in front of my TV with some popcorn. Popcorn gets boring after a while, though, with the same flavors. I don’t trust the popcorn shakers, because I worry that they’re just a gateway drug to buying bacon salt off the internet. So when I saw this new cheddar cheese flavor of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, I was transfixed.It popped up pretty well. On 2:17, the kernels were big and fluffy, and made about four big cup’s (the beer pong kind, but I put popcorn in them and post them on my silly blog) worth of popcorn, with a little bit leftover. I was surprised with the mode of cheese distribution, too. I’d originally expected this to be a shake and bake operation, where I’d put the cheese on after the butter had made it malleable for cheese to be added, but no, this was all one step. So that was nice, for feasibility’s sake.The popcorn itself is a big improvement for NASA astronauts, as it can be seen from the space station Endeavor, so one point for Orville, catering to that hard-to-reach astronaut demographic. Seriously, the color is blinding, and distributes well on the kernels. It looks much more orange than this photo does. The texture is lovely. It’s crispy, and has very few of the extra kernel bits that get in your teeth and require gum surgery to remove. In the entire batch, I had seven unpopped kernels, too. As far as taste goes, the first bite is buttery…and then, a hint of cheese. Very subtle. If they weren’t bright fucking orange you wouldn’t know that they were trying to taste like cheddar. Later, after eating a few handfuls, you realize, “Oh, this is the Vermont Cheddar Hydrogenated Oil I was telling you about, the aged one,” right in the middle of Hiroshima, Mon Amour during the parade scene and your friends will look at you and call you a DOUCHE.

And you will be. Just like this popcorn. I’m going to look for the nacho cheese and try it, see if it’s any better, but overall, I wasn’t pleased. So, what do you eat when you watch movies at home? When you go out to see a movie?

Odwalla Pomagrand

Here’s a delicious juice from Odwalla that reminds me of summer. Especially with the snow and crappy weather that we’ve been having, it’s awfully refreshing to have a beverage that brings back memories of the hot sun.
The drink itself is a mixture of pomegranate and lime juice, and I’m a sucker for all juices with lime. Hoping this would turn into another cherry limeade, I drank it. It’s definitely better cold than lukewarm, and the pomegranate flavor is deep and filtered. It’s a very intense and pure flavor, too. With some pomegranate juices that aren’t filtered enough, I’ve tasted muddiness and an almost salty flavor, like a steak sauce, which is great if one is making a savory sauce or marinade, but for a juice is rather repulsive.This juice is sweet, though, but not too sweet, and at the end of the pomegranate’s succulent and sugary vibe, the lime takes over and provides a tanginess when you swallow. I wished that the lime came out a little more within the flavors of the juice, but overall, it was definitely a clean taste and profile, and lived up to the name “Pomagrand”. So, readers, where am I going for my next lime juice fix???

The Cheesecake Factory

On a recent excursion to The Cheesecake Factory, we ordered a whole plethora of delicious food to sample. Of course, we had to try the famous fried macaroni and cheese and cheesecake for dessert, because what trip to the cheesecake factory would be complete without cheesecake? In the dessert sense, of course. When TCF starts offering 50’s pinup girls for sale along with desserts, or maybe even in conjunction, business will be booming.

My gastronomical gremlin ordered the orange chicken lunch special to start out with, and I ordered the fried macaroni and cheese appetizer as my lunch. I expected the portions to be massive, and I was right.

The orange chicken was covered in just the right amount of sauce- it wasn’t too sticky so as to make the coating mushy and soft, but it wasn’t bland, either. It was sweet and literally embodied the phrase “zesty” when one should think of food. In the sauce was a suspension of chile peppers, diced up, and small pieces of fresh orange rind, along with the orange sauce itself, covering the chicken.
The chicken pieces themselves were huge and plentiful, and very tender, and with a large portion of sticky white rice with a little cilantro on top to mop up the extra sauce, this was a fantastic meal that carried great value and excellent flavor. It’s rare to find good Chinese food at a Chinese restaurant, much less one that touts cheesecake as its specialty.
My appetizer/meal was the macaroni and cheese, and it was absolutely decadent. I was a little scared at first, because one of the top things that I’d feared about the fried mac was that it would be dry and bland on the inside. Not this. First of all, these were some BIG balls.

Ahem. There were four of them, and they were huge. The crust was crispy on the outside and very easy to break through, but not crumbly. I could pick one of these up in my hand and throw it like a cheesy Napalm grenade. They were quite heavy. Each one was topped with Parmesan and a little parsley. On the inside, though, it was all power. The filling was extremely creamy and gooey, and when I broke each ball apart to suck out the filling, (heh heh) strands of cheese came along with the noodles. This dish was definitely more cheese than noodles, which wasn’t bad. The noodles were entirely al dente, though, and really fell apart well in my mouth.

The cheeses were flavorful and salty, and with the crispiness of the crust, it creates a perfect sphere of wonderful tastes. They’re also very filling. I loved the combination of cheeses, and was eating the leftovers well into the night. The sauce underneath the plump little ballings was a pink vodka sauce, I think, and that gave a nice sweetness to some of the bites that I’d never thought to consider with my mac and cheese, because I’d never really thought of eating it with sauce. Go figure, but it was very tasty.

When I dream, I dream of this.After that, we were pretty stuffed, and still packed a ton of leftovers, but we wanted cheesecake, and cheesecake we had. My culinary compatriot ordered the pineapple upside down cheesecake, and I had the banana cream cheesecake.
The pineapple upside down cheesecake really did have a beautiful presentation. Actually, all of the dishes here did. It was two layers of pineapple upside down cake sandwiching a layer of cherry pineapple cheesecake, with whipped cream on top.

The combination of cheesecake and regular cake, which only a vengeful, obese mad scientist could have dreamed of, is utter genius. I mean, seriously? Both at once? Were we that bad in a past life to deserve them? But honestly. The cake is teetering on the edge of diabetes and baklava, laden down with enough syrup to down a full grown bear-moose hybrid. The layers are piled high with fruit, or what passes for TCF’s genetically engineered fruit, but it’s fucking delicious. Lots of coconut, but not as much pineapple as I’d expected, and the crumbly, gooey cake sort of overshadowed the cheesecake. It blended in with it more, making it less of a key player than more of a filling.

And I guess it was a filling. But if they’d had an even number of layers with the cheesecake and the pineapple upside down cake, the flavor ratio might have been even. I thought it was regular cheesecake at first, too, but then I saw that it was red from the cherries, and not the blood of the innocent, but I didn’t taste either of those. It’s a mystery! Overall, though, not a bad cake. Moist and pretty. TCF does make a very soft and wet cheesecake.As for my cheesecake, it was a massive slice with a layer of bavarian cream on top, whipped cream over that and on the sides, and two flanking rows of bananas. Dinner and a show. The banana flavor was very subtle, but with the graham cracker crust, I really liked the juxtaposition between crumbliness and banana flavor. I definitely think that TCF made the right decision in picking a sweet and milky, natural banana taste over an overpowering and artificial flavor. It balanced with the natural creaminess of the cheesecake and tasted wonderful when I ate it later that night.
With the fresh bananas, it was delicious. However, it was just a little too plain. The bavarian cream was a little too bland as well, and I think that this would benefit from some salted caramel sauce or hot fudge sauce, or a layer of caramel swirl. Definitely something to color it up from all the neutral yellows and take away the lackadaisical flavor palate. I loved the banana, but wasn’t wowed in the long run. Ever been to The Cheesecake Factory? What’s your favorite flavor?

Pillsbury Toaster Scrambles with Bacon, Egg, and Cheese

Well, technically, cheese sauce. Perfect for the kid or manchild who’s living in the basement at the age of 28 and still hasn’t moved out. That’s right, Chris-Chan, we’re talking about you!

These are a delicious breakfast food because they require no effort and still taste just as though you spent actual time toiling over the stove, sweaty bangs hanging into the greasy bacon pan, pushing up your Coke bottle glasses with one hand and flipping bacon with another. The croissant…strudel…bread…what the hell is it? They call it “strudel” in the sweet equivalent, but now it’s a scramble, so we’re left high and dry, trying to figure out what the bread is. Whatever it is, it’s leftover from the sweet stuff, so it gives a sweet flavor to the bread. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s like a cheap croissant. Makes you feel like a French tourist. It’s tasty, really, and crisps up well in the toaster.
The filling inside looks like the inside of a Tauntaun, but tastes quite good. It was heated evenly all around. I was disappointed that the cheese sauce was on the inside of the filling rather than being in a squirtable packet, like the sweet ones. I’ve always wanted to draw a penis or a Pikachu or a Large Hadron Collider on my Toaster Scramble, I don’t know about you. However, the inside of the scramble was satisfying. Although I was disgruntled with the amount, which was quite sparse, being that the photo showed at least double the amount in the actual Scramble thing, the ratio of filling to breadtangle was pretty decent. The egg, if you didn’t look at it, (in its disturbing cube shape) was pretty tasty) and the bacon was great! There was a ton of bacon! And I loved the cheese sauce.
Yeah. That’s what I’m calling it from now on. Breadtangle.

So, I liked these. I mean, for $3.59 at my convenience store, which has pretty high prices, that works out to 60 cents a pastry, which is a great deal. And I’m sure you can find them at a better price elsewhere. Has anyone tried the sausage variety? Are they good?

SNACKDOWN: A Tale of Two Sandwiches, or, Price vs. Vice

There are two competing sandwich places at the UMass Campus Center, both at The Blue Wall Eatery. One offers pre-made, organic sandwiches for an obscene price, and another, customized sandwiches with “lesser” ingredients, in the eyes of some, for a better value. Both sandwiches are delicious, but today’s review is open-ended. I’m not giving either sandwich a rating. I’m giving YOU the option, readers…what would you do? And what goes on your sandwich?
Here are my options. At the organic eatery, I’ve ordered a chicken breast sandwich on ciabatta bread, which comes with baby arugula, red peppers, goat cheese, and a garlic aioli. The sandwich is very small. Many readers may feel unsatisfied after eating it because it falls a little under six inches. (That’s what she said!) It’s also rigid in its construction because they’re premade, so should one want the goat cheese on one of the other sandwiches, say, on the ham sandwich, they will politely tell you that’s impossible because they’re constructed. And because of this preconstruction, they’re not fresh, so the vegetables are mushy and limp when they arrive. However, all of the ingredients are free range, organic, and from local farms in the area.
I still ordered it, because at the deli option next door, there’s no option for grilled chicken. And with the goat cheese and ciabatta, I must say, I was quite pleased. I felt like I was at a Food Emporium. The garlic aioli was disappointing as hell, because I was looking forward to a high quality sauce for the high prices that it cost me- $6.75 for the sandwich, with nothing added. At a rate of $1.12 an inch, I could have bought six self-rising pizzas at a budget grocery and had some friends over instead. So, I couldn’t taste the garlic, but the chicken was tasty and tender, and the goat cheese was very creamy, and with the ciabatta, I still felt like it was good. I ended up picking off the veggies because for one, they have no place on a sandwich, and for another, they were more flaccid than Carrot Top’s career.
Onto the Glutwich. You won’t think you’re in Manhattan. It’s from the customizable stand, where, at a fixed price, you can add as many toppings as you want onto a small or large sub roll or wrap. The pros? They have flavored mayonnaise, which my dining commons do not have, in flavors like chipotle, garlic, and herb. They have better quality bread. And they have more toppings. So, onto my sandwich. It’s deceptively simple, but so incredible. It’s just chipotle mayonnaise, American cheese, ham, and french fries with salt and pepper. It’s fat, carbs, and sodium, but it’s wonderful.
For $8.04, you get a drink of your choice, the french fries, and a small sandwich, which is quite heavy and measures in at about 8.5, 9 inches long. There’s no toasting option, though. The flavor is great, and I feel like the ingredients always taste fresh and nice. Sometimes the fries have been sitting so they’re a little cold when I bite into the sandwich, but if I get it and they’re very crispy, it’s wonderful with the spiciness of the mayonnaise and the ham underneath. It’s a fantastic sandwich for a hungry college student!

So, answer in the comments section! What do you do? And would you choose health over wealth?

Auntie Anne’s Sour Cream and Onion Pretzel

Yesterday, I stopped off and grabbed a tasty soft pretzel. I hadn’t had one in ages and it made a really tasty snack! What I didn’t know was that the pretzels came with all different kinds of powdered dips aside from the liquid dips that they could bathe in, so I decided to try the sour cream and onion and see if it could translate well from my favorite chip to a tasty soft pretzel.
Auntie Anne, whomever she may be, makes a darned good soft pretzel.
What I like about those that I don’t like about other brands is that it’s a very thin pretzel, so that it’s not too doughy on the inside, which can sometimes give it the chewiness of tasting undercooked. The plain parts are very buttery and moist, never dry, and it was nice and hot when I got it. As for the topping, it was a powder that the entire pretzel was splashed into when it came out of the case. It was very salty, which some people might not enjoy, but I personally loved.
Really, it was just like having my potato chips meet halfway with my soft pretzel, and that was freaking awesome. It was a little crispy on the bottom from the butter, the flavor was spectacular, and there was extra salt from the pretzel. Do without the extra salt; trust me. You won’t even notice it’s not there.

Stuffed Baguettes

Happy Valentine’s Day from Foodette Reviews! Now, most of the treats that you’ll see are for the menfolk trying to woo ladies, but ladies, how about vice versa? Here’s a treat adapted from the King Arthur recipe for stuffed baguettes that’s sure to make any man go ga-ga for you on Valentine’s Day!
Our tasty toppings? Prosciutto, pesto, fresh mozzarella, and ricotta, with garlic butter brushed on top. How’s that for an aphrodisiac?

Ingredients (serves 4, at least!)
Starter
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) All-Purpose Flour or Unbleached Bread Flour
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast

Dough
All of the starter
1 teaspoon instant yeast or 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm water*
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Unbleached Bread Flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Mix starter ingredients together, let sit in a covered bowl for 8 hours to overnight.
2. Once that’s done, mix that with the rest of the ingredients, and let that sit for 4-8 hours.
3. Roll out the dough and shape into three little ovals. Spread with a little oil and cover with a wet paper towel, let sit for fifteen minutes. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
4. Once done, roll the ovals out into flat rounds, like pizza dough flats. Spread with toppings
and roll up. Pinch at the seams and brush with egg or garlic butter. Bake for 25 minutes, cool and eat! Propose to your significant other and HAVE A HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Love,

The Foodette

Buffalo Wild Wings Southwestern Chicken Flatbread Flips

Erik and I took a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings, in the mall the other night and I took the opportunity to try their new Flatbread Flips, in Southwestern Chicken, with cheese, chicken, pico de gallo, lettuce, and queso sauce. The meal came with chips and salsa. To drink, we had the huckleberry lemonade.
The lemonade was very refreshing and came with a 50/50 ratio of ice to drink, which is always a letdown. However, it was tasty and smooth, and wasn’t too syrupy at all. It was very well mixed and was chilled throughout. With some mixed fruit and syrup drinks, one finds that the syrupy part at the bottom is sometimes relatively lukewarm, but in this case, it was chilled the entire way through, which was a big plus. However, there were no notions of lemon in the drink or any hint of it being natural, and I found myself wanting for a more lemon-based flavor.
The flatbread was the equivalent of what Taco Bell should be. It was massive and stuffed to the gills with fillings. The cheese was melty and the queso sauce had a little bit of spice to it, and it was very flavorful and tasty.
There was a lot of chicken in it, too, and the chunks weren’t chewy or fatty and they were tender and broke apart in my mouth. The flatbread itself held apart well, despite having one small seam and a mainly open edge, and nothing fell out. The vegetables added a crunch and tang and were fresh and nothing was limp.
The chips and dip, unfortunately, held up to the scrutiny of Mi Tierra and other incredible restaurants in the area. While most of the chips were crispy, some of the chips, I’d say, every one out of five, was undercooked and chewy like a raw noodle, and I couldn’t bite into one of them without choking on the piece I’d chewed on. It was very bad.
In addition to those pieces, the rest of the chips were bad. They were a quite greasy, almost to the point of being translucent, and undersalted. The salsa was too vinegary and very watery, and there was very little spice to it at all. With the chips, I was pretty disappointed and thought that more effort could have gone into them, especially the salsa. For a place that prides itself on sauces, it’s definitely a letdown.

Chocri: Fantastic Foodette

Here’s another delicious selection from Chocri in time for Valentine’s Day! This was my go-nuts bar, my personal indulgence. The bar has a milk chocolate base with toffee pieces, nougat, caramel drops, mini butter cookies, and gold flakes.
The milk chocolate base met the unfortunate fate of being on top of the shelf that held my lamp, and when I went to get it, forgot that the lamp was on and heated, and was briefly melted. A quick trip to the refrigerator fixed it, but the cosmetics are entirely my fault!The bar is very tasty. The milk chocolate didn’t have the snap that it normally would have, but that was probably due to the melting and re-chilling of the bar. I didn’t chalk anything down to that because that was a mistake on my part, though. The toppings were very artfully arranged and pretty on top, and I loved the earthy colors and bright accents of the gold. This was a really pretty bar. Overall, the toppings themselves were evenly distributed.
The flavors were varied and went well together as far as taste went. The toffee was very buttery and was the dominant flavor in the topping department. The nougat was extremely disappointing as it was not intense or flavorful at all, and was barely noticeable within the symphony of other flavors in the bar. The caramel was very subtle and soft and gave the bar a slightly salty tang, which balanced out the sweetness of the milk chocolate. It was a nice flavor, maybe a bit sweet for me. It was very milky and good, though. The star of the toppings had to be the butter cookies, though. I expected them to be soft because of the chocolate, but they remained crispy and buttery and the textural difference was wonderful. I just wish there had been more! There really weren’t enough cookies. The toffee was very buttery and had a pleasurably burnt aftertaste, reminiscent of cotton candy, but was way too crunchy and disrupted the softness of the bar itself.
Overall, I liked the combination of the bar in theory, but I feel like in practice, the similar flavors fell through and didn’t go together as well. I might have combined it with more spices and nuts next time instead of so many butters and caramels.

McDonald’s Sweet Chili Sauce

Well, after GrubGrade reported it, I braved New England’s monster of a snowstorm (ha!) and went out to get it. Hankering for McNuggets, we decided to change things up with some Sweet Chili sauce.
Essentially, it’s a rebuttal to the Sweet and Spicy Asian Boneless Wings from Wendy’s, reviewed by We Rate Stuff, under the guise of the Winter Olympics. Upon a careful review of my Styrofoam cup, I see that that Flying Tomato thing, Shaun White, was merely just flash in the pan. McDonald’s has moved onto some other generic icon who is now screaming at us to “SAUCE IT” and perform a really sweet move on our boards. Like we’d want to get up.
So the sauce. It was surprisingly decent in quality and ingredients for McDonald’s. There were a decent amount of chili pepper flakes in the sauce, and it didn’t seem to be 100% corn syrup and hatred. But sweet? It’s supposed to be sweet chili sauce. If they’re billing it as sweet and spicy, like Wendy’s, I expect there to be an even balance. This tasted spicy and not sweet. With the McNugget, the sauce melted quite nicely, and created a nice, sticky glaze over the nugget. But the flavor really overwhelmed the meat as a whole instead of making it taste good. All I tasted was spice and the texture of the chicken, which was an overall disappointment. More honey was needed, but if you like spicy spicy, maybe it wasn’t so bad.
Trying it with the ranch quelled it a little, but in all actuality, it tasted like we were eating really, really cheap Chinese food, and since we were eating mediocre fast food to begin with, eating cheap Chinese from a mediocre fast food restaurant is like Jeffrey Steingarten’s worst nightmare. Better to just get decent Chinese food at a cheap price or stick with the McNuggets in their ranch sauce, or honey mustard, or what have you, and stop trying to imitate everything else.