Author Archives | Kelley

Kelley - who has written 68 posts on The Impulsive Buy.

QUICK REVIEW: Herdez Cocina Mexicana Chicken Mole Bowl

Written by | March 24, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Frozen Food

Herdez Chicken Mole Bowl

Purchased Price: $3.50 (on sale)
Size: 10 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Mole sauce had a pretty accurate flavor and a little spicy kick. Great size for a work lunch. Can be microwaved thawed (so you can keep it at your desk and prevent food theft!) Most of the chicken was tender. Rice had a good, sticky texture and real cilantro taste with a hint of lime. Kudos for at least trying to make authentic-tasting frozen Mexican food.
Cons: Some of the chicken was dry. Expensive for the amount of food you get. Mole sauce could have had a stronger presence. There were bland spots in the rice. Don’t pronounce mole like the animal (it’s moe-LAY).

Herdez Chicken Mole Bowl Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 390 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,290 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 19 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 4% calcium, and 15% iron.

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REVIEW: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Written by | March 11, 2014

Topics: 2 Rating, Fast Food, Papa John's

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Being fortunate enough to live in an area with a large number of mom ‘n’ pop pizza shops, I’ve seen the cheeseburger pizza road before. (But not an actual Cheeseburger Pizza Road – if I saw that, I would move there immediately.)

I’ve found that small pizza joints tend to have a wider variety of toppings and, thus, a wider variety of specialty pizzas, ranging from cheeseburger to taco to gyro to something with pine nuts and Hoisin sauce. Okay, I made up the last one, but it’s not out of the question.

Comparatively, most chain specialty pizzas and toppings in general are pretty pedestrian. I consider myself lucky if I can even get white sauce as an option. If they do decide to branch out, it tends to be towards Crazy Town, like shoving hot dogs or seven different cheeses into their crusts. In fact, a lot of the insanity in chain specialty pizzas involves shoving shit into the crust. I’m looking at you, Pizza Hut.

Papa John’s went a different direction with their Double Cheeseburger Pizza, however. They put the crazy on top, not in the crust.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Slice

Here’s what Papa John’s has to say about the Double Cheeseburger Pizza: “Featuring a zesty burger sauce covered with a double layer of 100% real beef, dill pickle slices, fresh cut roma tomatoes and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella.”

I have several points of contention with this description. Let’s start with the burger sauce.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Burger Sauce

First off, the words “zesty burger sauce” are both generic and sound like they should be about five miles away from my pizza. Upon tasting, I uphold this idea. On its own, the flavor of the sauce was distinctly mayo mixed with ketchup, aka the poor man’s Thousand Island dressing. Call me crazy, but fresh-from-the-oven hot mayonnaise is not appealing.

Next we have the double layer of real beef. “Double layer” is a questionable quantity, and that really showed here, as I found the beef pieces to be rather sparse. Furthermore, the pieces of beef were small and remarkably flavorless, which is a bad trait for a pizza that’s supposed to taste like a burger.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Pickles

The tomatoes and cheese were just fine, but the real issue was the pickles. While the beef had a weak showing, the pickles certainly made up for it in spades. It appeared that Papa John’s used the same pickles you’d find on a regular fast-food burger, which sounds promising on paper but did not translate at all to a burger party in my mouth.

I could not escape the pickles. There was a slice in every bite. After I’d done my duty for the purposes of this review and eaten the pizza as-is, I tried removing the pickles in an attempt to have a slice of pizza that did not taste like a jar of brine. It was impossible. Even with the pickles themselves gone, the juice had been absorbed deep into the crust.

I would like to officially rename Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza to Papa John’s Precariously Plentiful Pickle Pizza. With sad beef, warm mayo sauce, and so many brined cucumbers that it made me want to make about 15 Pickles the Drummer jokes throughout this review, I cannot in good conscience call this a cheeseburger pizza.

To use a forced basketball analogy, Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza needs to work on its fundamentals. For right now, I’m benching it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6 of a small pizza – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza
Purchased Price: $6.00 (on sale: regular price $12)
Size: Small
Purchased at: Papa John’s
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: I got it for 50 percent off. The tomatoes and cheese were fine. Metalocalypse. I only ordered a small. If you put pickles on everything you eat, this is your dream come true.
Cons: Pickles overtook everything. A chain restaurant that left the crust alone but still made an awful specialty pizza. Warm mayo/ketchup sauce. I wish I was actually good at basketball. The double serving of burger was a double serving of sadness.

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REVIEW: Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake

Written by | January 30, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Breyers, Ice Cream

Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake

“Gelato.” It’s a fun word to say. Go ahead, say it out loud. I don’t care if you’re at work. Everyone already thinks you’re a weirdo. Yep, that’s right, your paranoia is not unfounded. You know the way everyone stops talking when you enter the break room? That’s because they’re talking about you.

“Gelato” also sounds super fancy, like maybe I should put some pants on before I start eating this Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake. In reality, though, gelato is just the Italian word for ice cream. It’s generally softer than your normal ice cream and, according to Wikipedia, “contains a relatively small amount of air. By statute, gelato in Italy must have at least 3.5% butterfat, with no upper limit established.”

No upper limit established, eh? I’m pretty sure 99 percent butterfat gelato wouldn’t go over so well with the general population, even in Italy. In fact, I’m grossing myself out just thinking about it, so let’s move on.

The lineup of Breyers new Gelato Indulgences includes Triple Chocolate, Vanilla Caramel and Tiramasu as well as my choice, Raspberry Cheesecake. I’m fond of all of these flavors, but there’s a special place in my heart for cheesecake, and an extra special place in my heart for cheesecake drizzled with berry-flavored syrup.

Given this, at least I didn’t have to stand in the frozen treats aisle for ten minutes trying to decide which flavor I wanted, which happens far more often than it should for the normal human being.

Breyers describes this flavor as “Cheesecake gelato with luscious raspberry sauce & gourmet graham crumble.” You do know how to make ice cream sound sexy, Breyers.

Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake Closeup

I love that Breyers went through the trouble of making Raspberry Cheesecake look like an Indulgence even when I took the lid off. I’ve never seen an ice cream make an effort to look fancy when you take the lid off, as opposed to just the container. Just look at those swirls and crumbles. Beautiful.

Appearances can be deceiving, however. Fortunately, that was not the case here. The gelato was super smooth straight out of the freezer, which I love. I hate when I have to chip away at ice cream until it melts enough to get half a spoonful out, which has sometimes resulted in my spoon acting as a lever that flings a bit of ice cream halfway across the room.

The gelato also captured an authentic cheesecake flavor. It would have felt like something was missing without the raspberry swirls, though. The swirls of sauce were evenly spaced and ran right down to the bottom of the carton. The thick sauce had a delicious, rich raspberry taste that complimented the gelato perfectly. It reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm syrup.

The one part where this Raspberry Cheesecake Gelato failed was in the graham cracker crumbles. They were rather definitively not gourmet. Unlike a good cheesecake, the crumbles were soggy, which makes sense given that they’d been sitting on top of ice cream, but still took away from the authentic cheesecake experience.

Furthermore, the crumbles you see are the crumbles you get – they look nice on top, but that’s the only place they are, so you’re not going to wind up with some in every bite. While they had a so-so graham cracker crust taste, they didn’t add much flavor or texture.

For Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake, the real stars are the cheesecake gelato and the raspberry sauce swirls, which, frankly are the most important parts. The smooth texture of the gelato and the rich sauce that was there in every bite without being overwhelming complimented each other perfectly.

I can forgive the way the graham cracker crumbles pretty much disappeared, but the $5.49 retail price seems a bit steep to me. If I see it on sale in the future, however, I’ll definitely be picking this up again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 170 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of total fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, and 8% calcium.)

Item: Breyers Gelato Indulgences Raspberry Cheesecake
Purchased Price: $4.49 (on sale)
Size: 28.5 oz. carton
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Gelato has smooth texture right out of the freezer. Saying the word “gelato.” Raspberry swirls are rich and in every spoonful. Breyers took the time to make it look nice in the carton.
Cons: Graham cracker crumbles are soggy and only on top. Being right about your co-workers talking about you behind your back. Price is a little steep. Thinking about 99 percent butterfat gelato.

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REVIEW: Domino’s Sandwich Slices (Italian Club and Garden Chicken Club)

Written by | December 26, 2013

Topics: 7 Rating, 8 Rating, Domino's, Fast Food

Domino's Sandwich Slice Box

When it comes to new fast food items in test markets, I’ve always been a bridesmaid, never the bride. Seeing other people in test markets get to try delicious (or not) new menu items made me unreasonably jealous.

Well now it’s my turn, bitches! Eat it! Oh wait, you can’t yet. But I will. And I’ll leave any further bragging out of the rest of these paragraphs.

When I first got the promotional email from Domino’s advertising their new Sandwich Slices, I was interested; but once I read the bottom of the email, I went from interested to excited: “We don’t mean to brag, but we think our new Sandwich Slice is pretty amazing. And we want you to be one of the first people in Phoenix – actually one of the first people in the world – to try it.”

I felt like a pizza princess! Or, in this case, the Sovereign of Sandwich Slices.

The promo email also called them “The best thing since sliced bread. Literally.” If we’re going to go down the literally meme hole, I’d think maybe Alexander Fleming would object to this statement; although, you could argue that sliced bread played a part in the discovery of penicillin, so…penicillin, sliced bread, Domino’s Sandwich Slices. Sharing the spotlight.

Getting to the Slices themselves – when I saw them, I was immediately reminded of Stouffer’s French Bread Pizzas. The concept is pretty much the same: the foundation seems to be part of Domino’s Oven Baked Sandwiches, which is then topped like a pizza.

Domino’s advertises four different Sandwich Slice varieties: Pepperoni Garlic Bread, Ham & 4 Cheese, Garden Garlic Chicken and Italian Club, but you can create your own with whatever toppings Domino’s has to offer.

I went with the Garden Garlic Chicken and Italian Club, because Domino’s suggested them and that meant I wouldn’t have to make any agonizing topping choices on my own.

While I chose two Slices with different toppings, they shared some fundamental similarities. First of all, the sandwich bread-to-pizza ratio was just right – there wasn’t so much bread that it overwhelmed the toppings, but the bread was able to support the toppings without caving or becoming soggy. That said, it wasn’t at all tough and had that oven-baked quality to it.

Each Sandwich Slice was 7-8” long. The banner outside my local Domino’s declared that they are “great for lunch!”, with which I both agree and disagree. On the one hand, it sucks when you’re at work craving pizza and nobody else wants to get in on that with you, at which point you can either get a sad personal pizza or a regular-sized pizza and look like a giant glutton.

Sandwich Slices seem like a great solution to this problem, except I found that one Slice wasn’t quite filling enough, but two Slices would have given me a case of Work Itis, which is never good.

Perhaps someone with a larger appetite than mine would have found two to be just right, but I think if they’d just extended their slices out to maybe 12 inches, that would have been the perfect lunch portion.

That said, I was pleased that the toppings did a good job of reaching all the edges of the bread. I hate when the first bite of a sandwich is nothing but bread. Well, the cheese at least did a good job.

Here’s the thing: if you’ve ever been in a situation where there are communal pizzas, you’ve probably done the Instant Topping Calculation – that thing where your eyeballs scan the pie, looking for the pieces that were blessed with the most toppings. Don’t act like you haven’t done it.

With the Sandwich Slice, you have to take your chances, much like you would hope that ordering a jalapeño burger from a drive-thru would result in getting more than one pepper slice on it.

Here is where we get to the individual Slices.

Domino's Sandwich Slice Italian Club

Domino’s describes the Italian Club Sandwich Slice as “Salami, ham, bacon and vine-ripened tomatoes over a creamy ranch sauce. Baked with a cheese blend of 100% real mozzarella and provolone on a slice of our signature rustic bread.”

I’m going to quietly ignore the fact that ranch sauce has absolutely no business belonging on something called an Italian Club, but I will say that it did work surprisingly well with the meats, possibly because it was very understated twang. While I enjoyed that, I guess ranch fans might have wanted more.

Domino's Sandwich Slice Italian Club Halves

Speaking of more, what I would have wanted more of was salami and bacon. My Italian Club Sandwich Slice was very ham-heavy; while this made for an enjoyable sandwich vibe, I do find it the most pedestrian of the three meats.

Domino's Sandwich Slice Garden Garlic Chicken

As for the Garden Garlic Chicken, Domino’s calls it “Grilled chicken breast, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh baby spinach over a garlic parmesan sauce and a cheese blend of 100% real mozzarella and provolone. Baked on a slice of our signature rustic bread.”

I much preferred the Garden Garlic Chicken over the Italian Club. There was a piece of tender chicken in pretty much every bite, complimented nicely by the juicy tomatoes.

Domino's Sandwich Slice Garden Garlic Chicken Halves

The real star here was the garlic parmesan sauce. It went great with the toppings and was so garlicky I’m pretty sure I could have fended off a vampire from a hundred feet away. The spinach seemed to disappear into the background, but the sauce combined with the cheese and the other toppings more than made up for this deficiency.

All in all, I found Domino’s Sandwich Slices to be a success. While there were some faults, like the slightly too-small size of the Slice and the fast food vagaries of the toppings, but each Sandwich Slice was covered well and the bread base held up well in both taste and topping support. Not a bad deal for a $2.99 lunch treat.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on Domino’s website.)

Item: Domino’s Sandwich Slices (Italian Club and Garden Chicken Club)
Purchased Price: $2.99 each
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Domino’s Pizza
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Italian Club)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Garden Chicken Club)
Pros: Nice bread-to-toppings ratio. Being in a test market! The garlic and chicken were delicious together. Penicillin. Toppings reached all edges of the sandwich. Instant Topping Calculation.
Cons: Not quite big enough for a satisfying lunch. Getting Work Itis. Not enough salami or bacon on the Italian Club. Bridesmaid dresses. Spinach seemed to disappear on the Garden Chicken Club.

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REVIEW: Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita

Written by | November 29, 2013

Topics: 3 Rating, Alcohol

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita Case

I have very strong opinions about booze. My bourbon should be neat, my martini should have gin, and for the love all that is holy and 86 proof in this world, stop making flavored liquor.

I have watched and seethed as Absolut developed 700 different vodka flavors, then watched as this phenomenon spread like a virus to other liquors, to the point where there’s cinnamon whiskey and watermelon tequila.

Furthermore, every time I see a bottle of Pinnacle Vodka, whether it be whipped cream or cheesecake or confetti or whatever the hell their newest abomination is, I want to go insane and trash the entire booze aisle, sending glass bottles of infused bullshit crashing to the floor.

In other words, I think Ron Swanson and I would get along nicely in a bar situation.

These vehement opinions extend to beer, also. I’m not talking about things like Sam Adams seasonal beers; I’m talking about…well, a fine example would would be Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita.

You’d think this would not make me the best choice to review this product, but I disagree. I enjoy challenging my worldview and my objectivity, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

I also drank my fair share of Boone’s Farm and Bartles & James in college; then again, I also got a degree in Fine Arts, so I can’t really say I had the best judgment back then.

In my defense, I have actually tried Bud Light Lime before, and it wasn’t so bad. See? I’m not a total snob.

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita Can

When I first poured my Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita from its petite eight-ounce can into a glass, it looked and smelled rather similar to cranberry soda. With the holidays just around the corner, it looked like a cheery refreshment that would look right at home at a party.

I tried it straight from the can first, and my first thought was, oh, hey, this isn’t so bad; it tastes a lot like cranberry sod…oh god what is happening.

What was happening was three worlds colliding – cranberry, Bud Light, and lime. I realize that this is a duh statement, but just think about that for a second. Bud Light and lime are acceptable together – while not quite like shoving a real lim e wedge into a light beer, it comes close enough.

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita

But somehow, the addition of cranberry and the substitution of higher-proof malt liquor instead of light beer ruined everything. That one second of cranberry was quickly overpowered by the taste of beer. Let me amend that – it was overpowered by the taste of cheap, stale, incredibly skunky malt liquor, like a half-empty 40 of Mickey’s that had been left on your dad’s work table in the garage for three days.

As that taste sensation lingers, add some artificial lime. The aftertaste is a combination of sticky sweetness, tartness and stale malt liquor put together, which is just has appealing as it sounds.

I’m not sure where the Rita comes into play here, as a margarita contains tequila and I couldn’t detect any taste of that nectar of agave.

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita actually tastes better if you drink it ice cold and out of a glass. The packaging ordered me several times to try it over ice, but I had no ice cubes handy, so I just put a can in the freezer for a little while (keeping a very close eye on it, because the last thing I wanted was a skunky, sticky cranberry malt liquor explosion all over my Stouffer’s lasagnas) and the cranberry seemed to overtake the stale 40 taste. I suppose it’s not a ringing endorsement when a high point of your beer product is that you can’t taste the beer (or, in this case, malt liquor) as much.

I really did go into this objectively, and unfortunately, I came out of it hating Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita and the fact that I still have 11 cans of it.

I think it’s cute that Bud Light tried to make a Limited Winter Edition…thing (what else can you call something named “Cran-Brrr-Rita”?), but combining sweet cranberry soda flavor with stale-tasting beer and artificial lime was a bad idea. Brrr-utally bad. I’m sorry, I use puns to cope.

On the plus side, if you leave this out during your holiday party, a child might mistake this for soda, take a drink, and instantly hate malt liquor forever, which means you’ll never have to worry about them passing around a brown paper bag containing a 40 of Colt 45. Then again, it might drive them straight into the arms of whipped cream-flavored vodka.*

*This author in no way endorses leaving booze out where children can accidentally ingest it. Or adults, in the case of Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 ounces – 197 calories, 0 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita
Purchased Price: $10.99 (on sale)
Size: 12-pack/8 fl oz. cans
Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Festive color. The idea of having a drink with Ron Swanson. Tastes better when very cold. I guess Cran-Brrr-Rita is kind of a cute name for a limited winter edition alcohol. At least it was on sale.
Cons: Malt liquor tastes skunky as balls. Reminding me of the uselessness of my Fine Arts degree. Too sweet. The trend of infusing flavor into every liquor on the market. Cranberry, malt liquor and lime should never come together again. Having to buy 12 cans.

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