Burger King’s “New” Chicken Tenders

The King has granted us, his lowly peons, the right to gnaw on chicken in a likeness outside of His Burgerness and has thrown away the crown for a non-denominational, constitutionalized monarchy of the holy poultry himself. Such poultritude! Okay, I’m done. I was mired in history papers and hankering for something easy, quick, and simple, so we headed to BK tonight to try out some of their new chicken tenders.While in some increments, these aren’t healthy, I chose to try a four piece of them with a dipping sauce to see how they were as a snack. I’ve never subscribed to the 100 calorie pack or No Pudge system of living. I’d rather do like the Italians do- indulge in smaller portions. Why skimp if all the “delicious” food you’re eating is really a compromise? Keepitcoming Love had clipped out a coupon for the new tenders in the mail for me, so I brought some home as a snack.Four of these will set you back 190 calories, or roughly 50 calories a nugget. An order of four has 11 grams of fat. This makes it easy to add together depending on how many nuggets you order if you want to estimate calories. The nuggets, which, by the way, are definitely nuggets and not tenders, come with your choice of dipping sauce. We chose buffalo and honey mustard. The nuggets are, regrettably, of the breaded ilk versus their crispy battered cousins from McDonald’s. This makes them look a little anemic and causes them to get mushier much faster. The chicken inside is spongy and predominantly salty. I was a little dismayed that despite their “makeover” of the previously crown shaped nuggets, Burger King couldn’t pull a Chick-Fil-A and use whole pieces of white meat chicken instead of this pressed particle board chicken mush. It really put a disingenuous slant on the whole redesign.They were pretty juicy for nuggets, and despite their bland, one-noted flavor, really came together with the sauces. The honey mustard was a standard sweet sauce, nothing to really write home about, but the buffalo sauce was surprisingly good. Instead of a standard butter (or oil) and vinegar based concoction, it was more of a thin cream-based sauce with a nice, spicy note. This was a sauce I’d actually put on other sandwiches or burgers. When the two sauces were combined, they made the nuggets almost palatable. Too bad they were better than the actual meal itself. Keepitcoming and I agreed that these didn’t quite cut it, not with delicious treats like Chicken Selects on the market. With fast food marketing teams engineering their products to elicit a specific reaction or comfort, these tread the line between middle school cafeteria fare and Kid Cuisine.

Aguas Frescas

The weather seems to have been nice so far, so with fingers crossed, Keepitcoming Love and I switched out our soups and gnocchis and brought out our summer menu- pizza, burgers, turkey dogs, and chicken salad, with more to come. We’ve added a new drink to our ever-expanding repertoire, and that drink may very well have a permanent place in our menus yet to come. That drink is the agua fresca- the best of juice, the best of fruit, and the best of hot, sticky summer nights. Behold.With a lethal slug of booze and the very essence of fruit, this is the closest embodiment of sucking the nectar out of a fruit rind as you’ll get. Three to four ingredients, two if you’re under 21, and an infinite number of possibilities. For our first two (expect more) we tried watermelon lime and cantaloupe basil. The watermelon was utterly quenching, lacking the pulpiness regular watermelon has but with an earthy sweetness to its flavor and a sour edge from the lime. The cantaloupe was our favorite, looking a little anemic and more like iced tea, but with a powerfully herbaceous flavor and sweet, melony satisfaction.
Watermelon Lime Agua Fresca
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1/4 watermelon or 4 cups of watermelon cubes
1 tablespoon of lime juice
3 cups of water
Vodka to taste

1. Chop watermelon. Throw all ingredients in blender.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Place a strainer or cheesecloth over a large pitcher, preferably one you’re not going to serve in, and slowly pour in the agua fresca, continuing until all the pulp is strained out of the drink.
4. Drink with ice and a smile.Cantaloupe Basil Agua Fresca
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1 small cantaloupe, chopped
1/4 cup of chopped basil
3 cups of cold water
Vodka to taste

1. Deseed and chop cantaloupe. Throw all ingredients in blender.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Place a strainer or cheesecloth over a large pitcher, preferably one you’re not going to serve in, and slowly pour in the agua fresca, continuing until all the pulp is strained out of the drink.
4. Drink with ice and a smile.With a rainbow of colors and flavors, what’s not to love? If it’s not quite spring yet where you live, try it out anyway- it’s a little hint of what’s to come.

Freschetta By The Slice Six Cheese Medley

Freschetta sent me a couple of coupons for their new pizzas, one of which seemed perfect for Healthy Month. Recently, Freschetta has come out with a new “by the slice” pizza, which is, as the name suggests, a lone slice of pizza. While this isn’t necessarily a new concept, rehashed by Red Baron and CPK, Freschetta certainly puts interesting spins on their slices.There are four varieties, and they all seem oddly hyperspecific or bland. On the hyperspecific side, we have a vegetable medley and a chicken, spinach, and mushroom, and on the bland side, the omnipresent BBQ chicken and a six cheese medley. This seems to eliminate a vast majority of people who don’t like some of those ingredients. For me, two of them were out of the running because I hate mushrooms. I decided to choose the six cheese medley for consistency’s sake. But geez, Freschetta, was pepperoni too prosaic for you?Because I had some free time today, I decided to dally and make this in the oven. I should note that this carries a $3 price tag and is roughly the size of 1/6th of a large pizza. This a little irritating for me. About a mile down the street from us is Mimmo’s Pizza, a joint that makes massive slices made to order, roughly the size of three of these put together with one topping for $2.50. If I didn’t feel like doing that, Red Baron sells two of their “by the slice” pieces for $3.49. What could possibly justify this?
Not a whole lot. After 14 minutes in the oven at 425, it was unevenly cooked, with crispy burnt edges around the perimeter and a white, barely melted center. It was cooked all the way through but the top made me wonder if I ought to have put it back for a few more minutes. Eating this with a glass of MiO fruit punch made me feel like I was eight years old, cooking Ellio’s at my grandmother’s and sitting down to watch an episode of Rugrats. The pizza crust was crispy on the outside, but flaky and airy in consistency. The “blend of six cheeses” was indistinguishable and gooey on top of the sauce, a salty Chef Boyardee-esque mess on top. It really seemed as though Freschetta had imitated the delicious mediocrity of Ellio’s, slapped enough cheese on it to cover the surface, and upped the price.

I wanted to like this more than I did, but there was something a little creepy about sitting around shirtless on a Saturday morning eating a lunch my childhood self would have high-fived me for. Maybe I’ll have better luck with the Freschetta Inspired line.

Cranberry Citrus Oat Newtons Fruit Thins

If you remember my post about cereal, you’ll know that it often gets the short end of the stick come breakfast time. Well, like cereal, cookies rarely ever get their due when I need a snack. I’ve been spoiled with a plethora of good homemade cookies so I rarely give notice to their storebought counterparts. That’s right- I’m “that guy” who turns away Girl Scouts when they’re selling cookies. Recently, Nabisco came out with a cookie that seemed to combine the best of Nabisco Fruit Crisps with the eponymous Fig Newtons with different, if not eclectic, flavors and a strange dearth of marketing. It was almost refreshing. Nobody was telling me to defriend ten friends on Facebook to get a free pack of Fruit Thins in a “Thin your Friends” campaign. The Old Spice Guy wasn’t hawking these. It was great, but strange. It was only when Keepitcoming Love spotted these in the grocery store that I remembered them and decided to try them out for Healthy Month.Three of these little buggers will set you back 140 calories. With three Oreos at 160 calories and three Chips Ahoy cookies at 160 calories, they didn’t seem to have much of a health advantage over any other leading brand. But I’m a sucker for an interesting flavor and the package looked like it provided a thick, soft cookie with a jammy filling.
Well, as you can see, I was a little off base. The cookie is rather flat with a wide surface area and isn’t filled, but studded with dried fruit pieces. That was a little disappointing. The bag, a neat resealable dealy like ground coffee, had thirty cookies inside. At $4.29 at Stop and Shop, this puts them above the average price of most cookies. The initial flavor is oaty and nutty and very heavy on the citrus, with more of an orange flavor than any other. The cookie base really reminds me of animal or graham crackers, with a buttery and slight salinity. The cranberries are only slightly present in the cookie, more as a textural irregularity than an additional layer of flavor. It was good and different from what I normally encounter in snacks, but not impressive enough to warrant the price tag. Maybe I’d have better luck with the other flavors. If you’re hesitant, too, don’t fret. Just wait a little while- with the lack of marketing and high price, this looks like a product we’ll see on bargain shelves six months from now.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis

Health food? Naaaah. But a smaller, Honey-I-Shrunk-The-Kidsesque version of a food everyone loves might be a good step. If you hadn’t already guessed, they’re a petite version of the classic candy, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Six of these little minis make up one big peanut butter cup.These are pretty tasty, not too far from the regular Reese’s. They come unwrapped in a bag that reminds our cat of her treat bags. Every time we opened the bag, she would come over, expecting a treat. The bag is clearly so recognizable that even pets know what it reminds them of, and leads us to believe if the designers wanted this bag to be like “pet treats for humans.” The chocolate to peanut butter ratio is a bit higher and I found myself missing that sticky mouthfeel that I get from the regular ones. The chocolate melts quickly and recedes to a nutty, creamy peanut butter. Not salty. Nothing complex here. Just tasty and snackable.My main problem with these was that they were deceptively small and with such a size, it’s hard to realize how many you can ingest, in veritable handfuls, before having eaten the equivalent of one or two packages of Reese’s. They do provide more long-term satisfaction as you can ration them out over the course of a film or an afternoon, but overall, don’t really provide the same amount of hunger quelling that I wanted them to. I find them tastier and crumblier than the Trader Joe’s cups. They had much more peanut butter.

Salt-Free Mrs. Dash

Last night was the first night we could eat outside this year. Of course, that was bracketed by two inches of snow over the weekend and a rainstorm today, but who’s counting? An occasion like that called for fresh ingredients. I baked a loaf of sandwich bread, sliced up an avocado, and sauteed some chicken breasts with fingerling potatoes. We wanted to make Southwestern sandwiches. Coincidentally, I was sent some flavors of salt-free Mrs. Dash a few weeks ago to test out for Healthy Month, so I liberally sprinkled one of them, Fiesta Lime, on the breasts and grilled them up. For a little variation, I coated two of the four pieces with another flavor, Lemon Pepper.From the start, I was fairly impressed with how vibrant and bold the Fiesta Lime was. Even a little on the tip of a spoon yielded a fresh, smoky flavor with a surprising citrus edge. I was initially worried that the heat of the spices would edge out the fruit, but it was quite zesty. I wouldn’t call the spice heated in any way, but it was very flavorful without being salty. I didn’t miss salt at all. The fine grade of the seasoning made it easy to pat onto the chicken and rub into the meat without any pieces falling off. It made a fantastic crust on the chicken.The Lemon Pepper was a rougher grade and somewhat chunky and had a problem adhering to the chicken. The flavor before and after cooking was somewhat astringent and lost a lot of its fruitiness in the process. The Fiesta Lime cooked well with the chicken and penetrated the inside of the meat. I’d be interested in trying this as a marinade. So far, we’ve been using it on everything spicy, including guacamole, nachos, and sandwiches.

Gluten Free Honey Nut Chex

As far as breakfast goes, I would never label myself as being a big cereal eater. I never saw the point of waking up and eating something cold and meager when one could eat something hot and filling. I’m also much happier when I’m eating savory things than sweet. So cereal had the dice stacked against it for years, always pushed behind egg sandwiches or pancakes or the omnipresent McGriddle.When I got to college, my enthusiasm went up once I discovered that I could have any kind of cereal I wanted in any quantity, but after about a week’s worth of Lucky Charms for dinner, the fun faded fast. Serendipity intervened a few weeks ago by means of General Mills Psst! They sent me a box of gluten free Honey Nut Chex to try out and out of desperation last week, I ate them. To my surprise, they were fantastic. While billed as having “just a touch of honey” they certainly have more than their fair share of flavor. I’ve never known any of the “nut” based cereals, aside from those that contain granola, to have anything more than a brief flirt with legumes, and so is the case with this cereal. If anything, the nut aspect is really overpowered by the milk.But the honey delivers a pleasant surprise. Combined with the wholesome corny flavor of the cereal, it tastes sweet and bready like a nice graham cracker. And that’s not just in the cereal, either. There’s a healthy coating of glaze and flavoring on the pieces so that enough seeps into the milk and is retained on the chex piece as well. The shape of the cereal absorbs milk well and soaks up the liquids nicely without getting mushy. I think that’s a result of the gluten free ingredients but I’m not sure.What I really like about this is that there’s a long window for eating it. You can eat it when it’s very crispy and barely wet or when it’s somewhat drenched with milk and falls apart in your mouth. And then you have all that luscious cereal milk leftover without any of the mushy crumbs floating around. It has that delicious, milky honey flavor. If I were ever to try Momofuku’s Cereal Milk Panna Cotta, it would definitely be with this cereal. I’ve plowed through an entire box in about a week and think I’ve found my new breakfast companion for the upcoming summer. For more Healthy Month fare, check out April’s posts and enter Foodette’s $50 Food Contest right here.

California Turkey Burgers and Baked Onion Rings

Okay, the cliche of “California” style foods is no more accurate than bastardized versions of Pan-Asian fusion a la Guy Fieri or the latest “Asian” potato chip flavor. Slap some avocado or organic, free range sprouts on anything you see and it’s suddenly Californian. But I have to say, it’s pretty damned delicious.For our first Healthy Month entry, aside from the awesome contest, we wanted to make a recipe that wasn’t stylistically different from anything we’d normally eat yet had some tweaks that would reduce the calories and fat. So we agreed on California turkey burgers with baked onion rings- surprisingly filling and absolutely excellent. One burger and nine onion rings clocks in at around 600 calories- at Red Robin, that same meal (with less meat!) will clock in at 1342 calories per person. California Turkey Burgers
Ingredients (serves 2)
3/4 pound of 99% fat free ground turkey
2 tablespoons salt-free seasoning (We used Mrs. Dash hamburger seasoning)
2 hamburger buns
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili flakes
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 slices of reduced fat pepper jack cheese
2 tablespoons of spicy mayonnaise or mustard

1. Mix your seasoning and turkey together and shape into patties of your desired shape and size. Put them back in the refrigerator to chill. Heat up oil and chili flakes in a pan until hot and place each bun half in the pan to grill.
2. When the buns are crispy and toasted, take them off the heat and top with mayo and a few pieces of sliced avocado. Start cooking your turkey patties.
3. Turkey patties will be finished when they are crispy and juicy on both sides and are no longer pink in the middle. Lower your heat and place cheese on top. Cover your pan and let the burgers simmer until the cheese melts, and then place them on the buns and serve hot.Baked Onion Rings (adapted from For the Love of Cooking)
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 large yellow onion
1/2 cup of flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of milk
1 egg
2 cups of panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut your onion into thick rings and toss with salt, pepper, and flour until evenly coated.
2. Mix together your egg and milk and place panko in separate bowl. Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray and in a three step process, dip your floured rings in the egg and milk, the panko, and then place them on the cookie sheet. You want them to be evenly coated and not too wet, but it’s a pretty messy process.
3. Once the sheet is full, bake the rings for ten minutes and then flip them over. Bake for another ten minutes or until brown on the outside and serve hot. These are extremely crispy, even the next day around, and have a flavor similar to their fried counterparts with far fewer calories.

Healthy Month Contest: Win $50 Worth of Free Food from Foodette!

Happy Healthy Month, one and all. By now you’ve probably discovered that this is NOT a post about massive burgers. Happy April Fool’s Day! Consider this my personal Lent, combined with, of course, quintessential Jewish guilt. To celebrate, we here at Foodette Reviews are offering you the one and only chance to win $50 worth of free, relatively healthy food gift cards and coupons, as well as a starter set of eco-friendly glass straws! (Prop twenties not included!)The prize includes:
A $10 gift card from Wendy’s
A $10 gift card to Stop and Shop (or your grocery equivalent)
5 Healthy Choice Coupons, each good for one meal of your choosing
2 Lean Cuisine Coupons, each good for one meal of your choosing
2 General Mills Gluten Free Chex coupons
One package of Glass Dharma glass straws- a $50 value, ABSOLUTELY FREE!It’s a food extravaganza! It will feed you for a week or possibly a day if you’re in college! It’s delicious and nutritious! And KEEPITCOMING POSED FOR EVERYTHING! (She understands and wishes to continue.) All you need to do from now, April 1st, 2011, to April 29th, 2011, at 11:59 2011, is post a comment telling me one of your favorite healthy treats and one of your favorite guilty ones and you’ll be automatically entered to win. Leave your email address and let the games begin!

Happy Healthy Month, guys!