REVIEW: Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

All right, dammit! I admit it, I like Pizza Hut?

As a former Manhattanite who grew up on real pizza, I think my family and friends in the Big Apple just hung their heads collectively in shame and disgust. I would probably garner a better reaction if I yanked my vintage Bugle Boys pants down and angry-sharted on my grandparent’s ugly Thomas Kinkade print (..alas, aren’t they all ugly?).

Since I’m in a mood to confess…I also secretly love dog-shaming pictures. You know the ones where the owners hang a sign around their necks proclaiming they did something bad.

And I not only love Pizza Hut, I also love their stuffed crusts. I see your head shaking, I know. Despite eating at some of the best pizzerias in New York and Chicago, I come to you throwing myself on the sword asking, “What’s so wrong with Pizza Hut’s pizzas?”

Besides, I now live in a major city in Florida where everyone proclaims their pizza is “New York”-style when in actuality, it is about as New York as the set of Jackie Chan’s “Rumble in the Bronx.” How many mountain ranges can you name that’s in the middle of the Bronx?

For pizza chains, in my experience, Pizza Hut is the most consistent overall. The sauce always has a nice subtle earthy and peppery flavor that pairs well with the tangy acidity of the tomato sauce. Furthermore, the pizza satisfies my cravings when the only local pizzeria around also specializes in Mexican food. Those in Ketchikan, Alaska know what I’m talking about.

After diving into several hours of Destiny, what perfect food than pizza can accompany hours of button mashing? I don’t have time to coordinate with a fork when I’m too busy coordinating the controls to grind levels.?
The delivery was quick and upon opening the box, the familiar fresh smell of fourteen delicious inches of hot pizza rose up and jacked my nostrils into heaven.

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice

Noticeably, the pizza looked a little weird because the crust was almost an inch and a half wide, which contained a mixture of melted cheeses and hardwood smoked bacon. The bulging crust begged to be ripped apart so the cheddar, provolone and mozzarella mixture could ooze out. I tore it apart and although there was no oozing, there was a rush of smoky bacon that filled the air around my face.

The crust was buttery with a pleasant chewy texture and the mixed melted cheese imparted a nice creamy taste, like the inside of a crab rangoon without the fake cream cheese flavor. The small bits of bacon cut through the cheese and it was awesome enough for me to eat just the crusts of several slices alone.

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza Innards

Initially, I was not happy with the paltry amount of bacon in the stuffed crust but it turned out it was the right ratio. The cheese mixture really carried the bacon well and amplified that salty and fatty porky taste. There was also a slight onion flavor in the mixture that was well received by my mouth as I continued to hand cannon aliens in the hope of grabbing some elite stuff.

The $11.99 special allowed one topping and I opted for the mushrooms, which was stupid. Pizzeria chain mushrooms are either rubbery or so thin that they are dried up like mummified corpses. I had the latter. The pizza was good but the mushrooms detracted from the pizza and I picked them all off. However, I take the blame and should have ordered onions instead.

The pizza itself sans mushrooms was good as the cheese was perfectly stretchy and the sauce lifted the flavors well. The chewiness of the crust extended to the slice and, as a whole, the pizza satiated my craving. Yet, to be honest, I would be satisfied just eating the crusts and leaving the pizza in the box.

If you’ve eaten the stuffed crust before and didn’t like it, no amount of bacon is going to change your mind. If you were on the fence, bacon does actually make it better. If you liked it, then get ready for Valhalla of epic stuffed crust-pizza proportions. While it’s not as gooey as I hoped, like a fried mozzarella stick, the taste was good enough to overlook this.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice w/o toppings – 340 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.)

Item: Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza
Purchased Price: $11.99
Size: Large
Purchased at: Pizza Hut
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The cheese mixture carried the bacon well. The stuffed crust was buttery and had a nice chewy texture. Bacon and melted cheese, what is there not to like?
Cons: The cheese in the crust wasn’t gooey. The dried mushrooms sucked the life out of a good pizza. Laughing at dog shaming photos, I’m embarrassed to admit I laugh at those.

REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Since the dawn of civilization cheesecake and pie have been wrestling in a titanic struggle of after-dinner supremacy. No flavor or ingredient has been off limits. From plump summer blueberries to decadent combinations of chocolate and peanut butter, the two desserts have been firing salvos at each other for years

Thanks to an urban chic food trend in embracing American comfort food, pie seems to have delivered most of the damage (calorically, of course) in recent years. It’s even become part of our lexicon, practically becoming synonymous with all things Americana and just damn yummy. That’s not to say cheesecake hasn’t had some good showings, but with fall dawning on us and Dairy Queen doing double-duty with seasonally themed Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie Blizzards, it’s going to take more than a proverbial trip to The Cheesecake Factory to steal some of the glory.

Fortunately, Baskin-Robbins is fighting back, indulging my love for both pumpkin and cheesecake with September’s Flavor of the Month. With both a cream cheese ribbon and cheesecake ice cream base it covers almost enough dairy as a Wisconsin 4-H fair, adding gingersnap cookie pieces which promise to add a bit of crunch and crust to the pumpkin ice cream.

That’s right, pumpkin. Not “pumpkin flavored,” and not just orange color with some vague spice flavor, the ice cream base nails an authentic pumpkin taste buttressed by a wonderfully autumnal sweetness and cinnamon spice. Bordering on cloying but thankfully neither earthly nor artificial, its distinct brown sugar notes are balanced by the taste of fresh cream and milk. It’s that taste which keeps the base from the heavy connotation pumpkin pie sometimes conjures up, and despite what I’m sure is a veritable calorie overload thanks to no less than 11 different sweeteners in the recipe, a modest-sized cone isn’t enough to make you want to unbuckle your pants and watch Tony Romo throw six interceptions on Thanksgiving.

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 2

The cheesecake flavor is really quite splendid, and I mean this in the most endearing way possible. Despite a fascistic ONE SCOOP FOR YOU policy instituted by my local Baskin-Robbins, a thorough probing (also known as licking) of the base reveals a well-integrated cream cheese ribbon with varying degrees of tang and richness.

There’s a smooth mouthfeel throughout, and no sign of the chalky or gritty “cheesecake” chunks that one sometimes finds in frozen yogurt shops. On two separate swipes on the tongue I caught a burst of tang, which illuminated my palette amidst the sweet cream high. It encompasses both a distinctive cheesecake vibe and indulgent cream cheese texture, and together the two elements of cultured dairy work magnificently.

Insofar as flavor is concerned, the gingersnap pieces aren’t bad—the distinct taste of ginger adds a great balancing depth to the sweetness of the ice cream—but the crushed snaps aren’t exactly crust worthy. With a soggy texture and almost no crunch to speak of, they’re actually kind of lost amidst the overly viscous ice cream, which seems especially prone to melting on even a modestly warm fall day.

Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream 3

Actually, my biggest gripe was the deteriorating texture of the ice cream. While it starts off exceptionally creamy and smooth, it doesn’t hold up to the tongue and quickly melts, leaving one with less with the impression of pumpkin ice cream and more with the notion of chilled pumpkin bisque. It’s enough to make me kind of wish I was getting pie.

Is Baskin-Robbins’ Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream enough to deal a game-changing victory in the war between pie and cheesecake? Not quite, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious or seasonally appropriate. With a no-nonsense pumpkin flavor and distinctive cheesecake richness and tang, it definitely fires the first shots in this year’s fall flavor battle.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 oz scoop – 260 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of sodium, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Baskin-Robbins Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.39
Size: Regular Scoop
Purchased at: Baskin-Robbins
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pumpkin cream cheese base has loads of cinnamon and brown sugar flavor. Avoids gritty fake cheesecake pieces. Gingersnap crumbs contribute good spice. Nice bursts of cheesecake tang. A solid showing by team cheesecake in the never-ending battle of desserts. Thank God I’m not a Cowboys fan.
Cons: Gingersnap pieces aren’t very crunchy and get lost amidst the ice cream base. Melts entirely too quickly. Feeling like Oliver Twist as the Baskin-Robbins employee haphazardly scoops my ice cream.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche

Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche

Dad: “That’s-a Gouda sandwich.”

Son: “Stop it, Dad.”

Dad: “Nice size, too. Serving size is not poultry.”

Son: “…”

Dad: “Ahem. Not poultry”

Son: “It is poultry. It’s a chicken sandwich.”

Dad: “Like paltry.”

Son: “Oh. I see. … Stop it, Dad.”

Dad: “Sheesh. Sorry to brioche the subject.”

Son: “I am going to die.”

Dad: “C’mon you got the onions to withstand a conversation with your old man. Certainly this sandwich does. Well, did. They’re all chopped up now. Makes me want to shed a tear.”

Son: “Oh my god.”

Dad: “And they got a healthy dose of greens in this thing. That’s good for my digestion, for my trip to d’john later. Let me be over here. Looking at me with an a-hole-y face.”

Son: “Are you having a stroke?”

Dad: “No. Dijon. Aioli. It has Dijon aioli. A-hole like asshole.”

Son: “Dad, you aren’t saying anything about the food. You want to talk about the sandwich, go ahead. Please. By all means. But puns are not a form of communication. I’m not eating with you so you can trot out stupid, tired dad jokes. If you want to talk about the sandwich, at least tie an opinion onto something instead of unloading on me the lowest form of humor imaginable. We aren’t connecting.”

A pause.

Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche Topless

Dad: “Okay. Well, the Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche is pretty good. Pretty good. Full stop. The chicken is breaded fine—nobody will mistaken it for Chick-Fil-A or anything, but it seems to be a lighter batter than the dollar menu items. It’s a good canvas for what goes on above it.

The cheese and the caramelized onion sauce play extremely well together. The sweet onion flavor is very reminiscent of fig, and the eponymous Gouda lands a few bites of earthy flavor in the sandwich. It’s not super stinky like expensive cheese, but somehow they’ve stolen a little bit of that Gouda power, and a mouthful here and there is filled with that wannabe classic cheese-and-fig pairing. It’s very fancy for fast food fare. Fancy for fast food fare. Try saying that—”

Son: “Dad.”

Dad: “Sorry. Adulting up the proceedings even more is the bitter greens mix, which is actually bitter and again contrasts fairly well against the onion sauce. The chopped red onions give off tiny flares of acidity. The Dijon aioli cools things off, but in the face of all the other flavors going on, its rounded profile is lost a bit in the shuffle.

Bringing it home is the brioche. It’s soft enough but not soft enough to be noteworthy. It’s more like a piece of bread dressed up in a brioche Halloween costume.

It’s a pretty expensive sandwich. The entire deal is very balanced taste-wise and, like I said before, it’s substantial. But it clocks in at over five bucks. Not sure if it’s worth it since we’re at Wendy’s right now but I wanted to have lunch with my son and have a nice time, so to me it’s a bargain.”

A pause.

Son: “Thanks, Dad. Sorry about saying your jokes were stupid before.”

Dad: “It’s okay. I get it that sometimes j’can’t-stand-kitsch.”

Son: “What?”

Dad: “J’can’t-stand-kitsch. Chick-en-sand-wich?”

Son: “Ugh, I thought we were over this.”

Dad: “We are.”

Dad disappears in a puff of smoke. Son is sitting alone at a restaurant eating a sandwich. It was an imagined conversation the entire time. The son looks at his meal and pauses. He sighs, continues to eat.

Dad walks up to the table.

Dad: “Sorry, the bathroom took a while. There was a line.”

Son smiles. The conversation was imaginary but his dad is still around.

Dad: “Also, I got stuck.”

Son shakes his head and chuckles.

Son: “Oh, Dad.”

Freeze frame like at the end of an 80’s sitcom. Pull out to reveal it’s a photo in an album. Son is in old man makeup looking through photos.

Son (voice over): “And that was the last time I saw him before he left.”

Shot remains on the son. Harry Chapin’s Cat’s in the Cradle plays in entirety, except instead of the line “You know we’ll have a good time then” it’s replaced with “You know we’ll have a Gouda time then.”

(Nutrition Facts – 600 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1550 milligrams of sodium, 460 milligrams of potassium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 32 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche
Purchased Price: $5.19
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Onion sauce and cheese are nice together. Bitter greens are bitter. Sophisticated flavors for the fast food world.
Cons: Pricey. Bread could’ve been softer. Chicken breading is fine but not spectacular.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito

Jack in the Box Sausage Grande Breakfast Burrito Foilless

When I put the Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito on the table, I said out loud, “Holy crap! It’s as large as my forearm.”

Then I thought, “Holy crap! Do I have small forearms? Do I have weak forearms? Are my small forearms the reason why I could never win at arm wrestling? Why is this pen so heavy?”

After I stopped being self-conscious, I peeled back the foil the burrito was wrapped in and then I peeled back the flour tortilla to reveal the burrito’s sausage, scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon crumbles, shredded pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese sauce, and creamy sriracha sauce.

The burrito also comes with a container of fire roasted salsa. But if you decide to spend your hard earned money on a Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito, grab that container of salsa, throw it as far as you can, yell, “Suck it, salsa! Your services are not needed at this time!”, and then get ticketed for littering.

This breakfast burrito doesn’t need the chunky condiment thanks to the sriracha sauce, which has a mild garlicky and chili pepper flavor. If you do use the salsa, you’ll find it chompblocks the sriracha’s flavor. While the sriracha has a lot of flavor, it doesn’t have much heat. So if you’re a fan of spicy sriracha, you’ll be one sad rooster.

You’ll also be one sad piggie if you were hoping the bacon crumbles would have your mouth bursting with salty, greasy, and porky goodness. They don’t, but the sausage does.

Oh wait. One more. Sad animal.

You’ll also be one sad cow if you were hoping the shredded pepper jack would bring a little heat and peppery flavor. It doesn’t. The cheddar cheese sauce definitely dominates the other cheese.

Jack in the Box Sausage Grande Breakfast Burrito Cut

The scrambled eggs didn’t really stand out, flavor-wise, which I expected. But my burrito came with a good serving of it, which helped the burrito look as large as my weak forearms.

Being wrapped in a flour tortilla with sauces and warm proteins and then all that being wrapped in a foil wrapper, I expected the hash browns to be soggy from sitting in that saucy sauna. But they still had a bit of crispness to them as I ate my way through the burrito.

Although the bacon and pepper jack cheese don’t add much to the Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito, the sausage, sriracha, eggs, cheddar cheese sauce, and hash browns more than make up for them. The breakfast burrito has a lot of flavor and a variety of textures, and, overall, it makes me one happy human with small forearms.

(Nutrition Facts – 1044 calories, 632 calories from fat, 70 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 391 milligrams of cholesterol, 2132 milligrams of sodium, 532 milligrams of potassium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 36 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Grande Sausage Breakfast Burrito
Purchased Price: $3.89*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Makes my forearms look small. Creamy sriracha sauce has enough flavor that the included salsa is unnecessary. Hash browns are still a little crispy. Sausage provides all the salty, greasy, and porky goodness.
Cons: Makes my forearms look small. Bacon crumbles and pepper jack cheese don’t add much. Sriracha lacks heat. Sad animals.

*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: Pizza Hut Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

Pizza Hut Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

Since I received the news that my fantasy baseball team was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, I’ve been beating myself up a little bit. I mean, me, a three-time champion in the seven-year existence of The Super Best Friend’s League, missing the playoffs? That’s something that sad losers do, not Trevor. I honestly think it may be one of the first signs of the apocalypse. Now maybe, just maybe it isn’t end of the world-related, but just to be safe I’d keep an eye out for rivers running red with blood, swarms of locusts, The Four Horsemen, and seven angels with trumpets.

With the recent hardship and possible apocalypse looming, I was in need of a pick-me-up. I sought it in the form of Pizza Hut’s Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Now being in the ultimate state of depression I was in, my dumbass forgot to buy milk before ordering the cookie. When I got it back to my apartment, I didn’t want to lose out on the just-from-the-oven taste of the cookie, so I settled for no milk. This joins drafting Tampa Bay Rays Outfielders Wil Myers and Desmond Jennings on my recent list of regrets.

Pizza Hut Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie 2

The first thing I notice about the Ultimate Cookie when I open the box is that it’s just a cookie cake without frosting. I’m not sure why I was expecting it to be a giant cookie. Pizza Hut should really put “cake” at the end of the title to avoid confusion. I was really hoping for a giant cookie, the kind that Paul Bunyan would eat. But alas, it was cut into eight pieces, thus becoming a cake and not one cookie.

The best part about this dish is the heavy amount of Hershey’s chocolate. It’s made with semi-sweet chocolate chips and they were melty and delicious, kind of like Hershey’s chocolate in a s’more.

The cookie was good, but I wanted a lot more. My mother makes my brother and I cookie cakes for our birthdays every year, so my standards are a bit inflated, but I was still a bit disappointed. It didn’t have enough of that salty-sweet that I look for in a cookie cake. But I guess that’s why it’s not called a cookie cake.

It’s a tasty cookie, but it will dry out your mouth. You won’t die if you order the cookie and don’t have any milk on hand but at the same time you will miss out on a lot of the experience.

Pizza Hut Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie 3

I ate four of the eight slices while it was still fresh and after a full day had passed I went back to see how it held up to the test of time. I had put it in plastic wrap and in the cupboard and it really was not worth keeping. The cookie’s flavor is dependent on it being warm. It’s not like when you make a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies and they will still be good for a few days. It makes you realize how average the cookie part is and that without melty chocolate chips, it’s really nothing special.

I really wish there was a frosting on it. It’s just a cookie cake somebody forgot to finish decorating. It’s like they got three-quarters of the way there and said, “Ah, good enough.” It’s not essential for the taste or anything, though it would be better, but it’s really confusing looking at a frosting-less cookie cake.

This giant cookie is decent, but like your friend who only wears jeans and a t-shirt whenever you go out, it needs something more to reach it’s true potential.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pizza Hut Ultimate Hershey’s Chocolate Chip Cookie
Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Pizza Hut
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Loads of chocolatey goodness. Winning three fantasy baseball championships in first seven years of your league’s existence.
Cons: Cookie is a tad dry. Doesn’t taste great the next day. Forgetting to buy milk before eating a giant cookie. Having a bad fantasy baseball season and unintentionally setting the wheels of the apocalypse in motion.