Zapp’s Voodoo Potato Chips

Some people are easy to please. Not me. I could never figure out the motives someone who was able to go to the movies and feel satisfied with a small popcorn, sans salt, butter, or smuggled cheese sauce, never mind passing up the litany of candies and Slurpees along the way. I can’t go to a barbecue that lacks thirty flavors of mustard and ten different artisanal sausages, and I rarely order a pizza that isn’t buried under a glut of toppings.

So you’d think I’d be pleased to find these potato chips, which are not only a total sensory overload with the aesthetic simplicity of a Magic Eye, but also an homage to one of life’s creepiest regional quirks, voodoo. Another particularly bratty habit of mine. I’m not big on chips without dip, nor pretzels without mustard. Unadorned junk food just doesn’t do it for me. Zapp’s is an elusive potato chip company from some region in the US with a large concentration of sports teams. I don’t know, I don’t follow cricket. Whatever. It’s rare to find these chips in their limited edition flavors, unless, of course, you check out Big Lots! It really is my new favorite hookup for discontinued products and hookups. This flavor, Voodoo, is less Santeria-style chicken heads and entrails and more “whoops, due to a carefully controlled employee mishap at our factory, we came out with this flavor” deal. I tell you, that shit would not fly at a CDC testing facility, no siree. Kind of uncanny how often that happens. Maybe they shouldn’t hire voodoo dolls as employees any more. Note that there is unfortunately no gris-gris at the bottom of the bag. Collect them all!
While I normally try to avoid kettle chips as they invariably get stuck in my soft palate, I bought these out of a weakness for the visual design. Look at this bag and tell me you don’t want to get it tattooed on your bicep, crazy-colored dolls, neon script, and all. Or at least commission a loud shirt out of the basic design. The backstory is mild in comparison, though, as are the cutesy phone order and computer graphics on the back. Opening the bag, I was immediately hit by a blast of tangy vinegar, salt, and the brown sugar paprika sweetness of barbecue. A good sign, if unoriginal. The chips are softer than the average kettle chip, although they do still fracture into a kazillion pieces upon impact and have a lot of surface area and curling to catch a good amount of seasoning in the cooking process.
The flavor is hard to pin down, starting with an acidic kick of vinegar and then morphing into a combination of sugary barbecue with an end result almost identical to the tomatoey sweetness in a bag of Herr’s Heinz Ketchup chips. The chip’s heavy garlic and onion influence and crisp, slightly greasy texture lend an almost chickeny flavor and feel to the chip, which is unique but not completely welcomed. It’s definitely a snack with an identity crisis. I’m not beyond new combinations and ideas, but I wasn’t seeing any congruent theme in this chip that made me want to go back for more. As hokey as it seems, surely a company wouldn’t completely throw caution to the wind and just let the production of a flavor happen accidentally with no science behind the flavors? It was too sweet and too sharp for my liking and just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
What I really wanted with these was a kick of heat. I solved the problem by dipping them into some salsa verde until I realized that the only reason I was eating the chips was to have something as a vehicle to eat the salsa with short of pouring it into my mouth. Even with sauce added, there was just something off about these chips that didn’t quite make them regular players in my lunch box.

Wheat Thins Sweet Cinnamon

Wheat Thins, not gonna lie, you’re coming at me a little strong. You know I’m not a huge fan of healthy snacks, so why are you bombarding me with flavors and hand-written notes and breaking into my house with your seasonal charm? You’re starting to resemble Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. I’ve resisted your charms in the past, though. I ignored your Crunch Stix and smiled wanly at your Smoky Barbecue wiles, but this time, you’ve made a Michael Douglas out of me with the sweet seduction of your Sweet Cinnamon. You’ve got me. It’s bonafide Stockholm Syndrome, addict-worthy, head-over-heels craziness. I absolutely love these. Also, I’m officially calling Sweet Cin as my imaginary Second Life avatar name right now.

There’s not a whole lot to say about these that hasn’t been said before. I appreciated the seasonal touch of including a cinnamon stick with my box. (Your box may vary.) I was a little skeptical about the hazy interpretation behind the Kevorkian-esque snowman on the front severing a Wheat Thin with his stabby carrot nose. I’m perpetually annoyed with flavor dust. But all of that pales in comparison to the fact that I honestly almost finished a box of these in a week. Tore through it despite knowing that I had a bag of Flamin’ Cheetos and gingerbread cookies lying in wait. I’m a little surprised myself.
What really gets me about these is the striking resemblance to freshly made cinnamon toast. The Wheat Thin base has a brown sugar and butter flavor to begin with, with just a touch of salinity, and the cinnamon-sugar coating is strong, but not too pervasive on the palate. The crunchiness of the cracker reminds me of the crispiest edges of the hot toast, and I suspect that eating these warmed up or mixed up with some raisins would make it even more breakfast-like. I tried them with cream cheese and apple slices and fell in love. Basically, anything that you would do to your toast to make it tastier, do with these. I’m not sure if the ham and cheese dip is a suggestion I’ll be following, but hey, I’ve had worse meals than a piece of cinnamon raisin toast with string cheese. Maybe putting it in portable form is the way to go. My only chief complaints are nitpicky at best, warning you that the cinnamon leaves your mouth somewhat dry and that the flavor dust coating is somewhat inconsistent, with some Thins nearly bare and others doused with dust.
I was sent a box of these and am now passing the wealth onto you like a 409 scam with actual payout. I’ve got ten boxes of these babies for the reader (or readers!) who can write me a halfway decent haiku about Wheat Thins or Foodette Reviews! Have at it and I’ll post the winners next Monday!

Gingerbread Float Cocktails

For most Americans, the next two months are going to be chock-full of activity and preparation. Not simply for holiday meals and travel plans, but mental, ninja-like preparation for steeling themselves against the onslaught of annual family members whom literally nobody enjoys.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you love your Uncle Roy despite his unflagging tendency to bring his own vegan quinoa salad and home-printed pamphlets about the brutality of turkey slaughter in the United States. And I’ve no doubt you occasionally enjoy the company of your cousin Jeremy, who will play Modern Warfare 3 with you for five hours straight after dinner but will casually bring up the subject of medical school, even though you dropped out in 2002.
But don’t try to convince me that you like your great-aunt or grandmother asking your date if they’re married. Or if you, politely clad in a starched Brooks Brothers shirt and pressed slacks, if you are getting married. Or if you’re ever going to bring a nice Jewish boy home to meet the family. (No. No. Not a chance.)
Don’t bust out the Prozac yet, guys. I have something special for you.
Once upon a midnight dreary, I sat home listening to Steely Dan and taking shots of this beautiful, sultry liquor, Root, alone in the dark. Your tax dollars at work! After sobering up, I realized that I needed to give this to the masses in a less collegiate, more family-friendly fashion like, immediately. And from my loins, this Gingerbread Float was born. I tested many combinations with my faithful friend and killed many gingerbread men in the process, but the results were so delicious that I couldn’t possibly keep them to myself.
Representing the high-priced, mild flavor of Connecticut. Hell yes!
Try to find Root. Please, please, please try to find this, because on its own it tastes like the best, most deeply smoky ginger beer you’ve ever had, with a snappy, sweet flavor like straight bourbon vanilla and a comfortingly warm finish. As well it should, being 80 proof. What makes it so remarkable is how versatile it is. I’d happily drink this like Scotch, with a finger or two in a tumbler with ice, or in a cocktail (warmed cider, perhaps?) or like this in a milk-based drink. You need this. I need this.
Rimming is essential. You know what I mean, don’t give me that look. Water will do in a pinch, but in later permutations of this cocktail, I found that a little maple syrup or melted caramel sauce was better for maximum stickiness for the gingersnap and spice coating. These are so freaking good. I know that as a full-time student at a full-time party school, I’m genetically obliged to tell you that something with copious amounts of alcohol and ice cream is freaking good, but this is good because it’s nuanced in a way that makes it an easy drinker as well as something to really savor. Whipped cream is unnecessary.
And yes, that’s not a typo. You deserve a cocktail with four ounces of booze, so don’t skimp.
Gingerbread Float Cocktails
Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail- multiply for more servings!)
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 Pepperidge Farms Ginger Men cookies, crumbled
2 oz Root liquor
2 oz vodka
1/2 cup vanilla bean ice cream or gelato
3/4 cup whole milk
Maple syrup for rimming
1. Crush the ginger cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Mix with spices and sugar and put on a small plate.
2. Over the sink, brush maple syrup over the rim of a Collins glass so that the spices and crumbs have a sticky surface to adhere to. Place the rim into the spice mixture and move around so that all surfaces are covered.
3. In a blender, pour in the remaining spices from the plate, the Root, vodka, ice cream, and milk. Blend until smooth.
4. Pour into glass and garnish with cookie and a dash of ground cinnamon.
Do not skip the garnish. It is the absolute alter ego of the cocktail. And it has red sprinkles, ergo, it’s really freaking cute. I rest my case. Please just make this- at the very least, you’ll have a built-in excuse to avoid backyard football and Republican debates.

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse Frozen Chicken Parm Spring Rolls

For me, chicken parmesan and fried spring rolls are second-tier foods. I don’t dislike them, but I’m only going to order them when there is literally nothing else on a menu that I even vaguely like the sound of. Basically, with the exception of non-Jewish weddings, I never order chicken parmesan or spring rolls. The wild assumption that not everything needs to be deep fried in an wonton wrapper has apparently not reached the HQ at Davio’s. We’ve reviewed the Northern Italian Philly Cheesesteak spring rolls and studiously avoided the shrimp cojita. Now it’s time to sample my edible consolation prize, the Chicken Parm spring rolls from Davio’s.

These started as a result of some guy named Wayne’s fastidiously childish compulsion of only eating chicken parm regardless of the establishment he was dining at. Wayne sounds like the kind of guy who brings his own tofu burgers to 4th of July barbecues and feigns indigestion to get out of eating Indian food. Instead of dismissing this as annoying, Davio’s found it memorable enough to…create a spring roll out of? And give us permission to enjoy it even if our name isn’t Wayne? All right. Well, considering that constitutes a cool 312,041,825 out of 312,430,801 people in the USA, or 99.8% of people, I’m glad they felt the need to give us that disclaimer. I think we can all safely agree that the chief allure of chicken parmesan is the crispy, flaky crust underneath the sauce and cheese. Likewise, the prime part of an egg roll is the chewy wonton wrapper. Put the two fried goodies together and you have Tums executives everywhere laughing evilly and twiddling their mustaches in glee.
The epitome of class.
Regardless, I tried these out of shameless intrigue and a complete lack of desire to actually cook. Unfortunately, they bombed even while eaten commando. (The spring rolls, not me.) Wayne can go back to eating chicken parmesan, because these are no substitute for either dish. If I was able to have an egg roll at Davio’s made in my honor, it would be the anti-chicken parm egg roll, and would consist of all that is good and pure on this earth that I could stuff in my mouth. This egg roll, on the other hand, is the antithesis of that concept. It cooks unevenly, a small facet that just adds insult to injury. Davio’s bumbling chefs took the concept literally and stuffed breaded chicken, sauce, and cheese inside the thick, absorbent egg roll dough, which, when indirectly heated and steamed through its crispy shell, translates as a mushy, overbreaded cheesefest with a pasty, thick mouthfeel and a salty sauce recipe lifted directly from Totino’s Pizza Rolls. It was impossible to discern any chicken in this whatsoever in both texture and flavor.
A part of me really did adore the Philly cheesesteak rolls because there was no filler ingredient to gum up the works. Every aspect played a key role in the composition of the dish, with the meat and cheese as filling and the egg roll as the carbohydrate binder. Here, the balance was thrown off and the ratios were completely skewed. I felt like I was eating the end result of a rejected Epic Meal Time sketch, with the subpar quality and condescension included with the $6.49 price tag.

Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cornbread Balls

Hypocrisy! I believe we’ve met. Specifically, the time when I backhandedly insulted cake balls for being little more than a trendy fad. What I didn’t count on was loving them. And needing to make them. I still don’t see a point in baking cakes for the sole purpose of rehydrating them in ball form, but you tell me what to do with two-thirds of a leftover pan of cornbread, a log of goat cheese, and a three inch-tall bit of salsa left in the jar. Sigh. It’s like Chopped for sad bachelors.

Well, long story short, I gussied up my ill-fated flirt with Larry the Cable Guy’s muffin mix and turned it into these pumpkin goat cheese cornbread balls. I made them under the guise of pretending to throw a big, impromptu party for all my fabulous associates and dearest friends. In reality, I chilled them and ate them for dinner. They were delicious. They used up all my leftovers. And they are a bite-sized, handheld alternative to brie rings or cheese loaves or crab dip for your (actual) shindigs.
The steps were similar to making the cake balls, substituting cornbread (I had some made from a mix, but you could make it homemade if you wanted to) for cake and goat cheese and salsa for frosting. The outside was a lime-chili spice mixture, and I dipped them in the best jalapeno dip known to man, Dr. Gonzo’s Jalapenomash. I encourage you to order it in bulk or use whatever your favorite it- but please make sure it’s green. My Jewish family members will thank you and your holiday tablescape will be just as ornate as Sandra Lee’s.
Step 1. Mash the cornbread with the salsa and goat cheese.
Step 2. Roll the balls in the spices.
Step 3. ????
Step 4. PROFIT
Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cornbread Balls (makes thirty)
Ingredients
1 loaf of cornbread (packaged or homemade)
1 8 oz. log of goat cheese
1/2 cup of chunky salsa (I used pumpkin salsa, but any type would work)
1/4 cup of chili-lime seasoning for rolling
Salsa to dip in
1. Bake your cornbread. When it is cooled, crumble with hands or a fork until fine.
2. Mix in salsa and goat cheese until it resembles a loose, crumbly dough.
3. Roll into small balls and roll in the chili-lime seasoning.
4. Chill for one to six hours and serve with salsa!

Larry the Cable Guy’s Spicy Corn Muffin

Euphe-what? I went there. To whomever neglected to inform me of the wonders and joys of Big Lots. You are a saint. I now have yet another funnel of cake and destruction to fuel my hard-earned paychecks into. This store is a mecca of weird-assed junk of the weirdest and assiest variety. I spent $12.50 on beautiful things and a lifetime supply of Propel in the ever-popular Lemon Pledge variety. Today’s selection, however, is not for the faint of heart. It is an item that exists on no websites, with proceeds that go toward prolonging a dubious catchphrase, and is advertised by a celebrity virtually nobody enjoys.

Amidst a gentle background of Conway Twitty, ladies and gentlemen, this is Larry the Cable Guy’s Spicy Cornbread mix. Hey, it was between this and a child-sized guitar emblazoned with a hip-gyrating Elvis, filled with festering cheese popcorn. No brainer, right?

You’ll notice that I neglected to sample the vast majority of the entire Cable Guy family recipe roster, including the Triple Cheese Cheeseburger Skillet Kit and Lasagna Casserole. This is because I do not fetishize e. coli and stomach pumping. Those of you who do have come to the right place. The first thing worth noting about this is its complete lack of presence on the Almights Lord our Internet. The only trace of this I found, aside from the downright creepy Git ‘R Done Association, whose charitable payouts undoubtedly include Big Mouth Billy Bass dolls for all, was the apparently brilliant pyramid scheme of selling these on eCrater for a mere $9.99 apiece. And to think I almost balked at parting with a dollar for the humiliation of having Larry’s face grace my kitchen. Eh, I’ve done worse.
Perhaps the most upsetting thing about this package are Larry’s witticisms and advice, scarily intended for an audience to which he is superior. Larry warns me on the back to “taste ’em before you add more hot sauce” and enthusiastically points out that I’ve “gotta try this.” What the fuck, Larry? No offense, I’m sure you’re a great guy, but I don’t come to you for advice on FDA safety regulations and Frank Bruni-esque recommendations. But I bought this cornbread because I was delirious with glee and also, hungry. For a dollar, it’s not terrible. Emphasis on the “not” and the “terrible” part. By that, I mean that it is edible, but only to a certain degree. My friend Larry might compare this to roadkill or one of his second cousins, but it’s no better than soul food and no worse than cornbread made from huitlacoche. I’m done. I’m sitting alone in my kitchen eating cornbread branded by a man with all the finesse of a drunk Guy Fieri.

Do not patronize me, Lawrence.

For all its poor advertising, though, the cornbread is a decent value. What it lacks in visual appeal it surely makes up for in taste, with a surprisingly spicy, non-medicinal burn and a tender crumble with a moist center. Too bad it’s colored in Home Depot’s bestselling “decoy orange” shade. I served it with a roasted jalapeno compound butte- ahahaha, I did no such thing. I ate it out of the pan. In the great, wide world of TV tropes, it’s the quickbread with a heart of gold. If you chance upon these, folks, I might say to give them a try. For a dollar they’re no worse than Hamburger Helper, but for the love of God, if you must gamble with your life and try the Cheeseburger Dinner, git ‘er done- git ‘er well done and don’t send me your hospital bills.

Planters Alaskan Wilderness Blend Trail Mix

Two very important things are going on right now. For one, we have a new kitten. Her name is Foodling on this blog, to protect her identity and criminal record. She’s a baby Bengal kitten, and she makes things exactly 8,975% more difficult to photograph. Fun facts! Seriously, this cat has the attention span and vapid eyeballs of a non-limpid Zooey Deschanel. And for another, I’m sick. Yes, two days of no heat made my immune system tantamount to that of a homeless person’s. I feel like a wimp. So I’m sitting here eating trail mix, the irony of which is not lost on me. I don’t hike. I try to avoid trails as often as I can. I eat this on long car rides, generally ones that are above fifteen minutes long because I have the attention span of an infant.

This trail mix is new, and believe me, Planters is incredibly heavyhanded with the visual references to how virile and athletic this trail mix will make you. The health benefits are practically plastered all over the shapely curve of Mr. Peanut’s thigh. I think I speak for all when I proclaim “Dayum, Mr. Peanut, dat ass!” Have you been doing Curves for Women? I’m merely echoing your imagined sentiments, readers. You’ll thank me later. Alaskan Wilderness Blend Trail Mix is a mixture of honey roasted peanuts, granola clusters, raisins, almonds, blueberries, and raspberries. I write this with a heavy heart as I notice that they forgot to include reindeer jerky and seal blubber, but I’ll assume that’s a typo and that my next bag will be chock-full of real Northern delights.
For $2.99, this bag is full of goodies. While my favorite were the dried raspberries and blueberries, which, through the magic of science had the texture of sweet, jammy gummy bears, it was impossible to ignore how tasty the honey-roasted peanuts were. No one element was too sweet or overpowering, though the peanuts and granola were definitely the most abundant. The granola really faded out in the mixture, a surprising feat as it was all over the damned place, and the almonds were an outlier in the otherwise finely textured, bite-sized grain of the mix. Biting into one in a mouthful was fairly unpleasant, like encountering a foreign object.
For a trail mix without chocolate, I was impressed at how much I liked this. Again, my biggest pet peeve is the noticeable lack of anything remotely Alaskan– step outside the box! Pine sap! Snow! Oil slicks! because outside of the generic forest clearing and lack of Chris McCandless, I wouldn’t have discerned anything regionally specific about this, but for a trail mix, it’s not half bad.

Ginger and Black Pepper Truffles

Halloween, you were fun, but now you’re merely a thing of the past. For the record, I didn’t dress up. I sat at home taking the practice LSAT for the second time. Spooky, right? Oh well. One can’t do everything, namely, ingest Slippery Nipples in a sexy pediatrician’s costume and get hit on by poorly made up Jokers. I did, however, leave Halloween in the past and focus on the latest and greatest upcoming holiday, Guy Fawkes Day. Because it’s strictly against my zoning laws to blow stuff up, I made gunpowder-inspired cookie truffles instead- smoky, spicy, snappy.

Cookie-based truffles and cake truffles are nothing new. Everybody and their mother has done something with them, and in eight katrillion flavors. But however hard I looked, and believe me, I looked hard, I couldn’t find truffles that utilized my absolute favorite cookie, Newman’s Own Organics Ginger-O. God, how I love it. It’s one of the only cookies that passed our scrutiny enough to buy it time and time again. To celebrate November and a three point raise from my first test, here are some Ginger and Black Pepper Truffles.
These are easy to make and even easier to doll up with interesting flavors if you’re so inclined. I used cinnamon and ground ginger in my white chocolate dip, and a cracked black pepper garnish on top. I only made 1/3 of the recipe, which yielded 16 truffles, but if you’re making these for a crowd, use the entire package. The reduced and full recipes are both below.
To start, take your Ginger-O’s out of the package and put them in a food processor.
Grind them up until they’re completely crumbled. I sprinkled some ground ginger in there, too. Make sure there aren’t any whole pieces left that have escaped the wrath of the blade.
Take your cream cheese- 1/3rd of the package or the entire block if you’re making all the truffles, and blob it into the food processor. Pulse that together until you have a blended dough.
Shape the dough into relatively round balls and place on a cookie sheet. Chill for no less than an hour and as long as overnight. While your truffles are chilling, prepare the chocolate bark.
The grocery store was out of Wilton’s candy melts, so I tried these Dolci Frutta melts. While I figured them out, they made too thick of a shell and were absolutely infuriating to mold. Stick to chocolate bark or candy melts.
I mixed in my cinnamon and ground ginger and melted the chocolate. It didn’t get any more fluid than a thick paste, so I had to improvise and mold it around the balls, like a fondant. After that, quickly dust the truffles with cracked black pepper- while they are still wet so it is able to adhere. Chill for four hours to overnight, and eat!
These were delicious- a cross between a snickerdoodle and a spicy ginger snap. Hopefully these will kick off a new trend in cookie ballery. I know what I’m making for holiday cookies this year.
Ginger and Black Pepper Truffles (makes approximately 50)
Ingredients
1 pkg. Newman’s Own Organics Ginger-O’s
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pkg. white chocolate baking bark
Cracked black pepper to garnish
1. Dump the cookies into a food processor and blend until finely ground.
2. Blob in cream cheese and blend until soft, smooth dough forms
3. Roll dough into small balls (2 tsp.) and chill for one to twelve hours.
4. Melt chocolate baking bark in double boiler and add spices.
5. Dip chilled truffles into melted bark and garnish with cracked black pepper.
6. Chill for three to twelve hours and eat!
Adjusted ratios for 1/3 of a batch
1/3 pkg. (approximately 12) Newman O’s
1/3 pkg (2.6 oz) cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 package white chocolate baking bark
Cracked black pepper to garnish