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Bakery

Starbucks – Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuchino & Lemon Cake Pop

Confession time – did you know that I did a brief stint as a Starbucks manager? Working for Starbucks was actually pretty fun. I always took the complicated drinks as a fun challenge and liked making friends with my regular customers. The major confession is though that I cannot stand coffee at all. When I was little, I was diagnosed with chronic migraines (which I still have to this day) and my doctor prescribed a small cup of coffee a day. No matter how much cream, sugar, or whatever my Mom put it in the coffee, it was still beyond gross to me, and I still share this feeling. The hardest part of my Starbucks training was the fact that I had to try every drink I made, which not only sent me bouncing off the walls because I don’t drink soda or energy drinks, so my caffeine intake is pretty minimal, but they all tasted gross to me.

Since I am full of confessions today, my heart actually is with Dutch Bros. Coffee, but sadly the closest one to me is way out of the way on my route to work. I finally figured out how to tweak the drinks that I liked getting there for the Starbucks recipes that I used to make every day at work and now I have some pretty awesome custom drinks that I like to throw the new kids at my local ‘bucks through.

Anywho – today marks the launch of Starbucks new spring/summer menu items and I decided to break away from my normal routine and try a few this morning.

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First up we have the new Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuchino. I normally get a chai frapp when I am at Starbucks if I am in the mood for something cold, but caramel sounded really good this morning. You may be asking yourself, what is the difference between this drink and their regular frappuchino? A regular caramel frappuchino uses only one type of caramel where the caramel ribbon crunch uses 4 different kinds blended into the drink. The caramel ribbon crunch version has a dark caramel drizzle on top with caramel crunchies on top (technical term here) I enjoy mine with soy and no whip because of the ole lactose intolerance factor, but let me assure you, this drink is wicked good. If you are not into super sweet drinks, this drink may not be for you as it is really rich from all the caramel, but maybe skip dessert one day and have one of these bad boys instead. Just don’t look at the calories, you’ll thank yourself for it.

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Next we have the new Lemon cake pop. I have enjoyed all of the cake pops that Starbucks has had in their pastry case so I figured that this would be no different and boy was I right. My favorite bakery item that I usually get is the lemon loaf, and lemon in general is my go to flavor when it comes to dessert choices if chocolate or peanut butter is not involved. The lemon cake pop is a perfect balance of sweet with a light tinge of tart lemon, making for a delicious two bite snack. The flavor reminds me of the lemon muffins that I used to get off the food truck near my Dad’s work as a kid. Except with way less preservative flavoring and more yummy.

So my vote is that these two items can stay forever – I know this won’t happen, but a girl can dream. Starbucks is also offering a new bunch of salads to their cold cases as well as adding valencia orange to their line up of refreshers in June. If you’re more of a tea person, they will also be adding the shaken peach green tea lemonade in June as well.

(please note that I was not compensated for this post by Starbucks in any way, and that my review is based purely on my own opinions)

April 30, 2013
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Graze Box – Number Four

Hey guys! Have any of you ever heard of Graze? It originally started in the UK and has been slowly branching out into the USA on an invite basis. The basic concept is that for $5 they will send you a mailbox sized box full of 4 different snacks every other week. There are over 80 different options to choose from and they are adding more.

Graze uses the following scale to rate how often they should send you something: trash, try, like, love. One of my New Years resolutions goals is to try new foods, so when I was picking out stuff I really made myself select try on more foods than I normally would.

Because of the amount of food, I will review the treats in a little bit different format than I normally do. Let’a go!

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This weeks mix is a half and half blend of sweet and savory.

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Fruit and Seed Flapjack : rustic rolled oat flapjack with mixed seeds and dried fruits
If you would have told me that there were apricots, dates, currents, sultanas, and raisins in this flapjack, I would have probably turned my nose up at it. I think in the last few Graze reviews I have made it pretty clear my feelings about raisins, but I had no idea when I was noshing on this delicious oat bar. Side note, because of my insane love of Hall & Oates, it is nearly impossible for me to type oat or oats correctly the first time. The flapjack is very moist and chewy, and the fruits included give it a great sweetness to it that is just right. The seeds that are included are sunflower and pumpkin which are both very tasty.
Overall this mix : love

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Brooklyn Bites : BBQ pumpkin seeds, poppy seed pretzels, and cheese cashews
This mix looks like a match made in heaven. Cheese cashews, poppy seed pretzels, and pumpkin seeds, yum! Unlike the other mix in my last Graze box, the pumpkin seeds in this are flavored, which takes this mix to a whole ‘nother level. The cheese cashews are slightly salty with a hint of cheese, but still keep the delicious cashew flavor. The pretzels were what I found the most underwhelming in this mix – they were pretty bland. All of the flavoring is concentrated on the pumpkin seeds which were slightly overpowering with the first bite I took. But out of the whole mix, I think I would say that they were my favorite.
Overall this mix : like

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Marvellous Macaroon : amaretti drops, almond slices, coconut flakes, and white chocolate buttons
Well it looks like the white chocolate didn’t hold up very well the few minutes my bag sat in the backseat of my car, baking away in the blazing hot sun. This made most of this mix turn into a katamari of ingredients, but I think it kind of worked out. The amaretti drops are so good, as are the white chocolate buttons. When this mix is eaten as it is intended, a little bit of everything at one time, it does in fact taste just like a macaroon, but because of my weird food habits, I eat everything separately. Sadly I was left with a bunch of almonds and coconut flakes and together those two things are the most bland thing on the planet.
Overall this mix : like

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My Thai : sweet chili sauce with baked soy bites
I love japanese cracker mixes – and I especially like the soy crackers, so when I opened my Graze box to find this mix in there, I was quite delighted. As usual I saved what I thought would be the best for last and I think I made the right choice. The chili sauce was spicy and sweet, but I am more of a dipper than a scooper when it comes to things like sauces, salsas, and the like, so I felt like they either gave me too much or didn’t give me enough crackers. The crackers alone were so good, and I could eat an entire bag if I had one and the chili sauce was very good. I could smother rice with the sauce or maybe some gyoza, man it was good. And sadly because I was so starved at work, I demolished the tray before even managing to take a picture. Crap.
Overall this mix : LOVE

*please note that this post is my own opinion (like all other posts) and was not paid or compensated with goods from Graze for this post.

April 25, 2013
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Arthur Paul’s Cake Pops – Birthday Cake

Posted in Bakery, Confectionaries

Hello world – What kind of blogs do you read? Strictly food? Lifestyle? I’m curious! I read a ton of lifestyle blogs, ranging from The Dainty Squid, Love Maegan, Delightfully Tacky, and Creature Type, but I also read a lot of food blogs. Of course I always read The Impulsive Buy and Junk Food Guy, but a couple of my favorite food blogs are Joy The Baker and Bakerella. No this is not a post just plugging people, but I thought I would share a few of my favorites, and there is a tie in with this post.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (on the internet) I discovered Bakerella. To say that I am envious of her decorating skills would be an understatement, but I can’t help but look at every single picture and post she puts up on her blog, and occasionally when she posts on Instagram. I have tried my hand at making her signature cake pops, and despite being delicious, they were a hot mess, a disasterpiece if you will. I couldn’t get them to stay on the stick, the first batch of chocolate I melted – burned, it was just all bad. At least they tasted good otherwise I think I would have had a mini-meltdown in my kitchen because of how much work it takes to make those dang things.

I was doing my regular snack food wander at Walmart – looking for new things to try and spotted these in the freezer aisle. They also had a red velvet cake version, but I am really picky about red velvet, so I figured that the birthday cake would be a safe bet. I am glad that these babies were on sale, because they retail for 5 bucks a box, and you only get 6. These things better be magical.

I was slightly saddened that these come in a tray instead of individually wrapped, because that means without the proper recovering, you will have freezer-burnt cake pops – yum. The pops themselves are about the size of a jumbo marshmallow, and have a thick coating of white chocolate and sprinkles on the outside. You have to let them thaw for at least 30 minutes prior to eating (at least that’s what they say to do) But what you decide to do is your own choice, as mine were pretty frozen when I decided to eat them because I am impatient like that.

I should have known that these would taste a little off. Have you ever had one of those clown cones from Baskin Robbins? There is something weird about how the frosting tastes after it has been frozen, and the outside coating of the cake pops tasted exactly like that. The best way I could describe the flavor would be cheap chocolate. The inside portion was rather tasty though, and I think had they just given me a tub of cake guts I would have been perfectly fine.

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Texture : 3/4 – The outside portion is a hard candy shell with soft cake insides. If you have never had a cake pop – don’t expect normal spongy cake that you are used to, it is more of a cake paste but it is delicious despite that less than flattering description. The sprinkles on the outside (or jimmies depending on where you are from) leave a slight greasy film on the inside of your mouth. That part I could do without.

Smell : 4/5 – In the packaging these have hardly any smell, but once you bite into the pop, you can smell the delicious smell of birthday cake. Butter and sugar mixed together to make that oh so familiar smell. YUM!

Appearance : 5/5 – I love all the multicolored sprinkles on the outside and they were generous with them, instead of throwing a few of them on there from a few feet away and seeing what stuck.

Taste : 3.5/5 – As I touched on before, the outside part tastes a little off and I could do without it all together. The inside portion is delicious and tastes just like a piece of birthday cake. For 6/$5 I would only buy these again if they were on sale because I’m pretty sure that I could just find a slice of birthday cake for cheaper, and it would taste better.

Do you have any blog suggestions for me guys? Anyone that I should read? Do YOU have a blog I should check out?

April 5, 2013
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Graze Box – Number 2

Hey guys! Have any of you ever heard of Graze? It originally started in the UK and has been slowly branching out into the USA on an invite basis. The basic concept is that for $5 they will send you a mailbox sized box full of 4 different snacks every other week. There are over 80 different options to choose from and they are adding more.

Graze uses the following scale to rate how often they should send you something: trash, try, like, love. One of my New Years resolutions goals is to try new foods, so when I was picking out stuff I really made myself select try on more foods than I normally would.

Because of the amount of food, I will review the treats in a little bit different format than I normally do. Let’a go!

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The outside packaging is no frills.

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This weeks offering was mostly savory.

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Summer Berry Flapjack : rustic rolled oat flapjack with berry infused cranberries

I had never had a flapjack prior to this Graze box or even had an idea of what a flapjack was aside from the normal pancake. Apparently it is similar to what most would consider a granola bar but it was more chewy than a regular granola bar. The oats were moist and flavorful, and the cranberries were sweet and tart. If Graze messed up and sent me an entire box of this flapjack, I would not be sad at all.
Overall this mix : love

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Cheddar Gorge : cheese cashews, baked herb bites, and salsa corn sticks.

I bring my box to work with me so that I will have a few choices when it comes to snacks during the day. Unfortunately this mix fell victim to the mid-day munchies and I completely forgot to take a picture of it (though you can see a picture here). The cheese cashews were nicely seasoned, the baked herb bites were flavorful and crunchy, and the salsa corn sticks tied the entire mix together with a nice kick of spice. I thought the corn sticks were a little to corn-y but they were good.
Overall this mix : love

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Mississippi BBQ pistachios : roasted pistachios with BBQ seasoning.

If I had to choose my favorite nut, it would be a toss up between cashews and pistachios. My only qualm with pistachios is that occasionally you will get one that tastes exceptionally gross. BBQ flavoring is not my first choice when it comes to food, and I dislike BBQ sauce all together which I’m sure is illegal in some portions of the United States, but these pistachios were the perfect amount of salty and smoky flavoring. I also learned a trick that seemed pretty ingenious for those pesky pistachios that are not open enough to crack open with your fingers – if you take a shell from a previous pistachio you can use the end to pry the other one open – so far I’ve had 100% success rate with this method.
Overall this mix : love

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Smoky Gazpacho Dip : smoky gazpacho relish with wholemeal crisp bread slices.

I will admit, I have never had gazpacho in my life, so I have no metric to measure this by. The gazpacho relish in my container was more of a gelatinous blob that was not very inviting at all. I am more of a dipper than a scooper when it comes to things like dips and salsas, so I dipped one of the bread slices into the gazpacho gingerly and took a bite – no thank you. When I read what gazpacho was made of, it sounds like it would be pretty good, but the smoke flavor was far too overpowering to be enjoyable for my liking.
Overall this mix : trash

*please note that this post is my own opinion (like all other posts) and was not paid or compensated with goods from Graze for this post.

March 28, 2013
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Jack In The Box – Mini Brownies

Posted in Bakery, Fast Food

Good evening food lovers! I hope you had a stellar weekend. We had so much rain today that areas around me actually flooded. Not a normal occurrence here in Northern California. Once the rain finally let up, we ventured out to look for NES games and a second controller since my original one finally ran out of extra lives. Sadly the Dimple Records closest to me was wiped clean of all things original NES so I settled for the new Raveonettes album and was on my way.

I normally don’t eat a lot of fast food, so I’m not well versed in the new menu offerings that fast food joints have lately other than what various food bloggers are chatting about. I saw the post by The Impulsive Buy that Jack In The Box added brownies to their dessert menu so I figured, why not.

Then I was greeted with this…

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Uh. Yeah. So I wasn’t expecting and sort of culinary masterpiece, because Jack In The Box is not a bakery by any stretch, but I was hoping for something that looked slightly more appealing. I was also surprised by how small they were. I would say that they are approximately 1.5 inches square, max, but for a dollar, what do you expect, right?

I think that where fast food places fail when it comes to things like desserts is that they attempt to make things that don’t fall in line with their menu. Mini churros work for Jack In The Box because they already deep fry things, but nothing at Jack In The Box is baked, so these don’t really work.

These would best be described as the slightly burnt corners/edges of a sheet of brownies. When you bite into these you are met with a sort of dry, sort of chewy, sort of normal brownie texture. I never had an Easy Bake Oven as a kid, but I imagine these are what brownies made in that would taste like. The chocolate flavoring is decent, but you can only really taste it when the brownie is in your mouth and not chewing. Once you start chewing, the flavor magically disappears.

Texture: 2/5 – The mixture of dry spots, chewy spots, and spongy spots make for a less than great taste.

Smell: 4/5 – Despite the taste and texture, these smell rather good.

Appearance: 1/5 – In person, these look like a small bag of turds.

Taste 2/5 – The semi burnt chocolate taste mixed with the uneven texture makes these almost inedible. Jack In The Box? I hope these are a really limited time engagement as it is time to go back to the drawing board.

December 2, 2012
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McDonalds Holiday Pie

Well, it is officially the holiday season folks. I can hardly believe it. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were counting down the new year, and now its time for the presidential election, time change, and holiday flavors! I have not been indulged in the McDonald’s pie world because A) I don’t really eat that much fast food, despite my junk food addiction. Something about consuming your weight in deep fried greasy food that sits in your stomach like a brick and makes you contemplate life choices that just steers me away from it. (Not to say I don’t enjoy the occasional Doritos Locos Taco or a large fry from McDonald’s) B) There is just something about those pies that I visually do not find appealing.

For some reason the way they look is so off-putting to me. But I can say, this year I have eaten more pies from McDonald’s than I have in my entire life. Last night while making a run for the Gingerbread Oreos at Walmart, the mood struck me and I decided to grab one of these at the in-store McDonald’s. The lady at the counter informed me that it was going to be 12 minutes for them to be ready, and because I had nothing else going on last night, I decided to wait it out. If I was going to sample this pie, at least let it be “fresh”.

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I anxiously awaited the arrival of the pie, passing the time doing one of my favorite sports, people watching. There are some weirdos in this world. Finally my pie was delivered to me. I had a preconceived idea of what this thing was supposed to look like, but then I was greeted with this. What in the world. Remember the part where I said that the appearance of McDonald’s pies are a bit of a turn off? THIS RIGHT HERE. What is going on with those sprinkles? The pie looked like it was covered in some sort of disco mold. Now being “fresh” I knew this thing was going to be hot, so I let it cool down for a bit while I just sat there, in somewhat shock of how not like the picture this thing looked. Finally I got the courage and broke it open to help the cooling down process. That custard-y filling? Yeah… not so appealing looking. I finally figured it would be safe enough to take a bite. BIG MISTAKE.

Biting into this thing was like taking a bite of a lava filled pie of doom cooked in the seventh circle of hell. This thing was molten. I’m pretty sure I seared off 35% of my taste buds. Protip: Let the pie cool down very thoroughly before taking a large bite. I am not sure if it was the lack of taste buds, or if this pie actually had a decent flavor, but I must admit, it wasn’t half bad. Of the three that I have tried semi-recently, I would say that it gives the pumpkin pie a run for its money. Definitely a large footstep in front of the smores pie. All in all I would eat it again. The exterior was nice and flaky and the interior (once finally cooled a bit) was nice a creamy and had a smooth custard flavor.

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Texture: 4/5 – The mixture of the flaky crust and the creamy filling make for a nice balance and convincing pie eating experience. Though I imagine not getting one of these fresh, would not be nearly as good.

Smell: 5/5 – The pie smelled really good. It smelled like a sugar cookie fresh out of the oven.

Appearance: 1/5 – They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’ll let those pictures do the talking.

Taste: 3.5/5 – All in all this pie was pretty decent, borderline pretty good. The flavor doesn’t scream holiday to me (HELLO! GINGERBREAD PIE!) but I would buy another one. For best flavor, I suggest getting a fresh one.

November 2, 2012
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Entenmann’s Little Bites – Limited Edition

Posted in Bakery

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I was surprised to see a new flavor of Little Bites that were not holiday themed. I sampled the pumpkin flavored ones, which I thought tasted a smidge like soap. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s okay. I really enjoy snicker doodle cookies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, cinnamon and sugar on toast, and coffee cake, so I figured these couldn’t be that bad.

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I was a bit surprised to open the package and see just four of these little guys staring back at me. They are about the size of a small donut hole and smell delicious. From my previous experience with the pumpkin flavor and the classic blueberry flavor, I knew that these were going to be moist. I don’t know if its intended that they be almost on the “I just undercooked these muffins and they are a little doughy/gooey” side or if its because they are trapped inside of thick plastic that keeps them from drying out, but these were moist as expected. They have the overall taste of cinnamon and sugar baked through, but also have small little crunchy pieces (really small) baked in as well. I must say the outsides of the muffins were a tad dry, but it didn’t ruin the overall flavor or texture. I think these would be a nice compliment to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

Texture: 4/5 – These had the moist texture of a fresh baked muffin. The outside was a little dry, but overall appealing.

Smell: 4/4 – Upon opening the package, I got a nice waft of sweetness and cinnamon.

Appearance: 3/5 – I was disappointed at how few were in the bag. I think I would have felt less ripped off if the bag was smaller. The overall exterior was inviting, though upon first glance I was unsure if they were supposed to be spotty as the picture on the box showed otherwise.

Taste: 4/5 – I enjoyed these and would venture to say that of the flavors I have tasted these have been my favorite. I think they stand well alone as a quick breakfast or lunch dessert and would also be a nice compliment to a hot beverage. Overall I really liked them.

October 24, 2012
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