REVIEW: Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares

Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares

With some chocolate and mint candies it feels as if your mouth was assaulted by multiple candy canes or 9 out of the 10 dentists who recommend a particular toothpaste armed with the toothpaste they recommend. But that’s not the case with these Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares.

They have a mild peppermint flavor that doesn’t overpower the milk chocolate exterior or “brownie” filling. What’s with the quotation marks? I’ll get to that in a moment.

The filling has tiny crunchy bits and you might think it’s peppermint candy because everything about the packaging SCREAMS peppermint candy, but it’s not. Digging one out of my mouth reveals they’re mint chocolate cookie crumbs that look like part of a cavity all 10 of those dentists would remove from a mouth.

The milk chocolate is creamy and the filling is smooth, but with every square I’ve eaten I keep wondering when the ”brownie” flavor will show up. I’ve had enough brownies in my lifetime to know what they taste like and I don’t get an inkling of the baked good in these.

Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares 2

The squares have the right balance of milk chocolate and mint, the filling is smooth, and I love the crunchy cookie bits. But what excited me about these was the word “brownie” and I didn’t get any of it with flavor or texture.

For a minty chocolate candy, they’re really pleasing. And if the squares were used as tile in the bathroom of the witch in Hansel and Gretel, she would have to redo it after every time I came over because I would eat most of it.

But as I lay on her bathroom floor made from Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares, stuffing my face with the surface I’m lying on, I’ll be extremely disappointed they didn’t have brownie flavor or peppermint candy bits in them.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 square – 80 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 5.1 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful mint and chocolate squares. Crunchy bits add a pleasant texture. Creamy milk chocolate. Brushing your teeth. Being able to leave the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel without being eaten.
Cons: No brownie flavor. No peppermint candy bits. The witch in Hansel and Gretel sending me the bill for her bathroom repairs. Cavities.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Pepper Jack Ranch Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box Pepper Jack Ranch Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box’s Pepper Jack Ranch Spicy Chicken…

No, wait. That’s not accurate to me.

Jack in the Box’s Pepper Jack Ranch Spicy Chicken Sandwich doesn’t deserve to have “Ranch” in its name, because, as I ate through all 672 calories, I tasted very little of it.

The limited time only menu item comes with a spicy “ranch” sauce, a spicy pepper jack cheese, and a spicy, crispy chicken fillet. It’s also topped with lettuce, tomato, and bacon on a buttery bakery bun. It’s surprising I didn’t taste much of the ranch sauce because a layer was spread on the top AND bottom buns. And to make sure it was the right sauce, I licked both buns.

But the spicy ranch sauce, along with the pepper jack, did help give the sandwich a mild heat that built up the more I ate. After trying the ingredients individually, it turns out the sauce and cheese are spicier than the chicken fillet.

But without the ranch flavor, the sandwich is a glorified Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Actually, I take that back. Even without the tangy ranch, it’s still a good sandwich and slightly better than the Spicy Chicken Sandwich because of the bacon and it’s spicier.

Jack in the Box Pepper Jack Ranch Spicy Chicken Sandwich 2

The chewy, but not crispy bacon added a nice smoky element and, apparently, I’ve pleased the Bacon Gods because every bite had a little bit of pork. While the bacon wasn’t crispy (but is it ever at fast food places?) the chicken’s breading along the edges had a satisfying crunch. The chicken fillet itself was easy to bite through despite being a little dry and I got three tomato slices (BONUS!!!).

But an extra tomato slice doesn’t make up for the lack of ranch flavor. But it has pepper jack, it is spicy, has chicken, and is a sandwich, so I guess it fulfills the rest of its name.

(Nutrition Facts – 672 calories, 349 calories from fat, 39 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1392 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price:
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Spicier than a Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Bacon adds a nice smoky element. Chicken fillet has crispy edges. Bonus tomato!
Cons: Ranch flavor is lacking. Lettuce never looks like what’s in the promo photos. Doesn’t deserve the “ranch” in its name. Might not have enough spiciness for head heads.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Steakhouse Queso Nachos

Taco Bell Steakhouse Nachos

In 2012, Taco Bell offered XXL Steak Nachos that featured steak, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, a three-cheese blend, refried beans, and nacho cheese sauce on tortilla chips.

In 2015, the chain sold their BOSS Nachos that featured steak, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, a three-cheese blend, refried beans, and nacho cheese sauce on tortilla chips.

This year, Taco Bell has, for a limited time, Steakhouse Queso Nachos that come with — say it with me now — steak, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, a three-cheese blend, refried beans, and…not nacho cheese sauce on tortilla chips.

This time it’s queso.

I’ve always liked Taco Bell’s limited time only nachos because they come in a container large enough that I can imagine I’m eating nachos from a trough. I just put my hands behind my back, like I’m bobbing for apples or throwing up into a toilet, and then just dig in.

The nachos’ highlight was the queso. It’s such a simple ingredient, but it added a nice creamy, cheesy, and spicy kick to everything. Okay, not everything. While the queso itself was great, the amount on the chips wasn’t. Maybe a third of them were topped with it, and that’s disappointing because it’s a step up from the nacho cheese sauce.

If I had to pick a lowlight it would be the tortilla chips. Under sections that had lots of toppings, the chips sucked whatever moisture they could and quickly got soggy. About half of the chips were in this condition by the time I got to eat them after a five minute car ride home. But I shouldn’t be surprised since that is the nature of nachos.

Taco Bell Steakhouse Nachos 2

As for the steak, sour cream, pico de gallo, three-cheese blend, and refried beans, all of which I’ve had (and you’ve had) in other menu items, my only complaints about them are not having enough of the tender, marinated steak to justify the high price, not having as much refried beans as the other toppings, and how unnecessary the three-cheese blend is because it doesn’t stand out at all with the other ingredients.

Overall, if you liked the previous steak nachos, I think these are a slight improvement thanks to the queso. And I’m sure you’ll like the future version of these nachos in 2017 or 2018 when they’re called Doubledilla Nachos or Great Steak Nachos.

(Nutrition Facts – 1130 calories, 500 calories from fat, 56 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 2210 milligrams of sodium, 116 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $7.99*
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Queso is a step up from the nacho cheese sauce. Large serving. Being able to pretend I’m eating nachos from a trough. Tender steak. Not exactly like the previous limited time only nachos.
Cons: Would’ve like more queso. The nature of nachos. Not having the food science that allows chips to remain crunchy longer than the flavor of Fruit Stripe gum. Not enough steak to justify price. Needs more refried beans. Useless three-cheese blend.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream

I decided that it was only fitting to celebrate my birthday early with Ben & Jerry’s Confetti Cake Ice Cream especially since one of my favorite things in the world is Yellow Confetti Cake a la Pillsbury – with all the confetti frosting and confetti fixin’s, of course!

When I peeled off the lid, there was something about the brightly-colored Fruity Pebble-colored confetti that made me real giddy. After taking only a couple of seconds to admire its beauty, I dug in immediately. I was very satisfied by the ice cream’s scoopability. There’s nothing more annoying than having to chip away at ice cream that has frozen over like an ice block, but Ben & Jerry’s usually never does wrong in this department.

Unfortunately and fortunately, the Confetti Cake Ice Cream tasted more like a crappy supermarket confetti cupcake. You know the ones that I’m talking about – the 12-pack of cupcakes in clear packaging located in the bakery section next to the equally crappy sugar cookies. I use the word “crappy” in an endearing way because there’s something I love about them; maybe it’s the nostalgia factor of eating one too many in elementary school.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream 2

The ice cream reminded me of supermarket cupcakes for two reasons. First, it tasted overwhelmingly like vanilla confetti frosting. Like your first bite into a supermarket cupcake, you usually just get a mouthful of frosting because the ratio of frosting to cupcake is way off. Second, because you’re basically eating straight frosting, there’s a greasy mouthfeel that accompanies your first bite. I was quite bewildered at how I was picking up that greasy, rich feel. Was it just in my head? How the heck does Ben & Jerry’s do that with ice cream?

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Confetti Cake Ice Cream 3

As I continued to carve confetti caverns into the pint, I felt underwhelmed by the cake pieces. I could barely taste them through the vanilla confetti frosting taste. Also, it didn’t seem to add anything to the overall texture because the confetti bits themselves already added a slight crunch.

I will say that adult-me prefers eating Ben & Jerry’s Confetti Cake Ice Cream over supermarket cupcakes. Seems like a win – I get all the nostalgia without having to eat an actual crappy cupcake. But, I think a touch of yellow cake would help to break up the vanilla frosting monotony – think cake batter and confetti cake having an ice cream baby. I ended my early birthday celebration with a confetti-cake-frosting-flavored burp. Shout out to my fellow November babies!

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 280 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 9 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, and 10% calcium.)

Purchased Price: $4.28
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Imitation is the finest form of flattery – all the crappy supermarket confetti cupcake taste without having to actually eat a crappy cupcake. Great scoopability.
Cons: Tastes exactly like crappy supermarket confetti cupcakes. Cake pieces were gratuitous. Yellow Cake > Vanilla Cake.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Homestyle Potatoes

Jack in the Box Homestyle Potatoes

French fries.

Seasoned curly fries.

Hash browns.

I guess we should include Bacon Cheddar Potato Wedges.

And now Homestyle Potatoes.

That, my friends, is the list potato sides you can get at a Jack in the Box. If you’re a potatophile, this list should give you a carb-on. Although, if Wendy’s can have a baked potato, why can’t Jack in the Box? Come on, Jack! Get on that!

The chain’s Homestyle Potatoes are part of their new Brunchfast menu and they feature diced potatoes mixed with bell peppers and onions. The side comes in one serving size and it’s almost the same as a large fries.

I’ve gotten my money’s worth at several brunch buffets in my lifetime and almost all of them had roasted potatoes that looked like these. Some were just potatoes while other included peppers and onions.

The flavor of Jack’s Homestyle Potatoes do remind me of the roasted potatoes I’d form mounds of on my plate at a brunch buffet. Well, to be more exact, they’re like the potatoes I’d get from a brunch buffet that have been sitting in the Sterno-heated tray for too long, but I took them because I didn’t want to wait for a fresh tray.

Jack in the Box Homestyle Potatoes 2

The potatoes appeared to be seasoned with some herbs (although I couldn’t taste them), had a soft texture, and some of the potato skins had slightly crispy edges. The veggies, which there were not a lot of, were somewhat crisp. While I enjoyed the Homestyle Potatoes with my Brunchfast, a part of me wished I had hash browns. There’s something about that golden brown, crispy, greasy brick of potatoes, that appeals to me more.

Like all of Jack in the Box’s menu, the Homestyle Potatoes are available all day. So you can order them for Lunner, Dinnfast, Snacner, or whatever meal portmanteau tickles your fancy.

(Nutrition Facts – 259 calories, 106 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 489 milligrams of potassium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.39*
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Another potato side at Jack in the Box. Tastes like brunch buffet potatoes. Some vegetables. Some potatoes has crispy skin on the edges. Available all day.
Cons: I think I’d rather have hash browns. Tastes like brunch buffet potatoes that have been sitting out for a while. Couldn’t taste herbs. Not a lot of veggies. No Jack in the Box baked potato, yet. Making portmanteaus with a portmanteau.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.