REVIEW: Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Burger King Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich

Burger King’s Chicken Cordon Bleu is like me realizing I’ve run out of soap while in the shower. I’ll use whatever else is available, which is shampoo.

With the sandwich, Burger King forgoes chicken cordon bleu’s traditional Swiss cheese and uses the mozzarella it has lying around because of its Chicken Parmesan and Crispy Chicken Buffalo Melt sandwiches.

The BK Chicken Cordon Bleu features a 100 percent white meat seasoned crispy chicken filet that’s topped with black forest ham, two mozzarella slices, and a tomato pepper signature sauce on a golden brown potato bun.

I picked one up at my local airport’s Burger King, so excuse the almost $14 meal price below. But, at first, I thought it was a good thing because the last time I ate at this airport Burger King, I had the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had in my life from a BK. It was the Crispy Chicken Sandwich that came out earlier this year and it was delightful. It was crispy, juicy, and at a temperature I’ve never experienced at a Burger King in decades. So I expected my taste buds to be pleased again.

But when I bit into it, I noticed the temperature contrast between the hot chicken filet and cool-to-warm ham and cheese. I was surprising because I watched the BK employee make my sandwich and after layering on the cheese and ham and wrapping it up, I thought I saw her lift into a microwave, stand there for several seconds, and then pull it out of the microwave. But it tastes like I imagined that.

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The lukewarm ham and cheese is an issue because they take away from the chicken’s crispy breading and slight juiciness. They also take away from the flavor of the new sauce, which is tasty. It’s like sweet and peppery Thousand Island dressing, but without the relish.

Eventually, the chicken causes the cheese to melt a little, but that happens halfway through eating the sandwich. The ham uses the mozzarella as a cheese shield, preventing any heat from affecting it. The worst part is that the ham and cheese don’t add to the flavor of the sandwich, they just subtract from the heat of the sandwich.

Overall, Burger King’s Chicken Cordon Bleu isn’t a horrible sandwich. There’s a lot of good — the sauce and crispy chicken filet. But, the lukewarm ham and cheese bring down the whole experience.

(Nutrition Facts – 730 calories, 39 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1930 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $13.79*
Size: Small Combo
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crispy chicken filet. Tomato pepper signature sauce has a nice flavor.
Cons: Warm-to-cool mozzarella and ham brings the sandwich’s temperature down. Ham doesn’t add to the sandwich’s flavor. Uses mozzarella instead of Swiss.

*I bought this from an airport Burger King, where things are a bit pricier.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Nutmeg & Cinnamon Triscuit Crackers

Limited Edition Nutmeg  Cinnamon Triscuit Crackers

I’ve got to admit, I only eat Triscuit once or twice a year.

My family has a tradition at holiday gatherings to make one of the simplest yet most delicious appetizers you’ll ever try. A block of Philadelphia cream cheese covered with a jar of salsa and served with Triscuit. I know, it might sound kind of bizarre, but don’t dog it ’til you’ve tried it cause it’s damn delicious. I love Triscuit in this setting, they’re perfect. Better than Wheat Thins or any other chip when combined with this dip, but I don’t ever buy them for myself.

Popcorn, Cheez-Its, Doritos – these things all find their way into my snack cabinet, but I’ve never felt compelled to buy the hard little squares of shredded wheat on my own…until now. My inner spice sense began tingling the second I saw the new and autumn-kissed Nutmeg & Cinnamon Triscuit.

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The crackers look no different than your average Triscuit – square, brown, and wheat-y. The aroma is similarly familiar – wheat with a hint of lingering sweetness.

The flavor, though, is surprisingly soft and very good. The overwhelming feeling I get when biting into these crackers is warmth. The presence of the spice doesn’t smack you over the face with artificiality or some kind of sweet pumpkin spice foil – they simply elevate the flavor of the wheat and add a wonderful spicy flourish to the already established successful profile.

Cinnamon and nutmeg are definitely the key players in the mix, but I also get a nice tingle of ginger. Nothing about the flavor is harsh and, shockingly, the crackers aren’t sweet either. In fact, they aren’t even really salty, less so than the original. Being devoid of sweet and salty would imply that they’re bland, but the spices make up for it.

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Since the flavor comes off as more of a warm feeling than bold tongue-tingling taste, they lend themselves very well to different applications. Smeared with some cream cheese? Awesome. Topped with peanut butter? Delicious. Garnished with a bit of medium cheddar? Divine. The spices don’t bully their way to the forefront of the experience and yet they stay there in the background like lovely jazz in a cozy coffee shop – never taking over the conversation, but elevating the atmosphere immensely.

If you’re a Triscuit fan and are looking for a slight festive twist on something you already love – look no further than Nutmeg & Cinnamon. They’re subtly complex and fitting for your next holiday gathering, and hey, maybe even try topping them with cream cheese and salsa – you might be pleasantly surprised.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 crackers – 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Nice subtle but complex blend of cinnamon and nutmeg. Hints of ginger. Not sweet. Flavors work well with variety of toppings.
Cons: A Triscuit can only be so good. They will never be Cheez-Its or Sweetos

REVIEW: Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

I frequent Starbucks a little too often. (Mom, if you’re reading this, Starbucks gift cards are a very acceptable Christmas gift). I also am a sucker for the holiday and/or limited edition drinks, like Starbucks’ new Toasted White Chocolate Mocha.

The beverage includes espresso, caramelized white chocolate, whipped cream, and candied cranberry sugar. When I received my hot drink, I was super pleased that what I got DID look like the promotional picture.

There’s plenty of whipped cream (although it was sunken in due to the heat of the drink when I took off the lid) and cranberry sugar that, in my opinion, kind of looked like bacon bits. (Hey Starbucks, there’s an idea! A drink with bacon? This would have done wonders for the Maple Pecan latte that was released this fall. The drink fell flat for me, and bacon would have seriously enhanced it with the maple. I end my rant.)

The first sips of the drink were mostly whipped cream, which is never a bad thing. Once I got to the actual drink, I was definitely a fan. I didn’t taste too much of the “toasted” flavor, but the white chocolate was strong and delicious. While there is espresso, I didn’t taste any coffee – I felt like I was drinking a fancy white hot chocolate.

This is definitely a fun “dessert” drink or mid-afternoon pick-me-up (I’m plotting it for a Black Friday sugar rush), but don’t count on it for your morning caffeine jolt. It DOES contain caffeine, but it just wasn’t too noticeable for me. I usually avoid caffeine after 5 p.m. so I can get to sleep like a normal person at night, but I had this at 7 p.m. and my 10 p.m. bedtime wasn’t a problem.

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Back to the candied cranberry sugar — this was the most unnecessary part of the drink. Not only did I not taste any cranberry flavor, once the fruit bits got soggy, their texture was too soft and chewy. Because cranberry isn’t in the name of the drink, I think you could do without it.

I drank the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha over the course of an hour, and the flavor and temperature held strong. One key takeaway is although this is a sugar bomb – 41 grams in a tall! – it’s not overly sweet. Perfect for sipping and shopping, if you ask me.

Starbucks, another well-done holiday drink. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. (cough, bacon, cough.)

(Nutrition Facts – 12 oz – 330 calories, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 41 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Strong white chocolate flavor. Didn’t keep me up all night.
Cons: Bacon bit-looking cranberry sugar on top that just wasn’t necessary.

QUICK REVIEW: Baskin-Robbins Tiramisu Ice Cream

Baskin Robbins Tiramisum Ice Cream

Bucking the ho ho ho-hum trend of cramming peppermint or gingerbread into every new or limited flavor this time of year, Baskin-Robbins’ November Flavor of the Month is Tiramisu. Tiramisu-flavored ice cream is filled with pound cake pieces, a chocolate mocha ribbon, and chocolate flakes.

Coffee is unabashedly the dominant flavor in this dish, emanating a distinct smell and exercising as much subtlety as a Targaryen barbecue. The tiramisu-flavored ice cream base seems enjoyable on its own, but I had difficulty isolating it from the generous mocha ribbon.

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Unfortunately, this proves to be too much of a good thing as a coffee-flavored ribbon in a coffee-flavored base leaves a somewhat bitter aftertaste and feels as unnecessary as taking a dip in Goo Lagoon when you already live in a pineapple under the sea.

It also creates a problem for the semi-sweet chocolate flakes which add a nice snap but fail to punch up the chocolate notes enough to stand out despite decent representation. Meanwhile, the scarce pound cake pieces are relegated to merely providing a pleasant spongy texture as their flavor is completely overshadowed by the coffee.

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Perhaps the rich buttery essence of a mascarpone swirl would have resulted in a more balanced and authentic flavor than the coffee overload created by the mocha ribbon.

I like a bold coffee-flavored chocolate ice cream, and this certainly fits that bill; it just isn’t the iconic, layered taste experience you know and love in ice cream form. This rendition of tiramisu is as authentic to its Italian heritage as a Brooklyn plumber riding a dinosaur.

Purchased Price: $2.79
Size: Large scoop (4 oz.)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small Scoop) 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, 1 gram of dietary fiber, and 5 grams of protein..

REVIEW: Quaker Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal

Quaker Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal

Gingerbread is one of the oldest cookie traditions known to man. The swirling baked concoction of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, molasses, and honey was used to treat indigestion and painted as window decorations as far back as the 15th century. The hard spicy biscuits were not only delicious, but medicinal, and even though I’ve never eaten cookies to cure a tummy ache, I’ll gladly take that medication any day.

In true lineage with the old spirit of gingerbread, one of the oldest feeling adult-meets-kiddy cereals, Quaker’s Life, put their own spin on the multipurpose treat with this season’s Limited Edition Gingerbread Spice Life.

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The funny thing about Life is that they all look the same, with no vibrant fake coloring or powder to indicate what they’re supposed to taste like. They’re just boring little criss-cross oat wheat squares that somehow Quaker packs some flavors into. Their appearance, however, is fitting for the drab-looking gingerbread, and the flavor follows suit. Crunching into these seasonal delights dry reveals immediate notes of ginger and molasses, accented by a soft, sweet finish.

My biggest concern was that it was going to be very similar to last year’s Pumpkin Spice Life, which I’m a fan of, but I’m happy to say they’re very different. Pumpkin Spice Life had a strong cinnamon flavor and this one is surprisingly not cinnamon-y at all.

Each chomp packs a different Christmas punch. Sometimes it’s ginger-heavy, sometimes it just tastes like oat-y cereal, and one bite even had a sharp black pepper kick, which was surprising, but not strange since it’s a key component in traditional gingerbread. The more I eat the squares, the more complex they get. And one handful gave me the distinct yeasty bread flavor of a soft pretzel — delicious.

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The cereal holds up pretty well in milk too. The spiciness is dulled down a touch, but the creaminess of the milk helps bring the true gingerbread experience full circle, adding a hint of what’s missing without any gingerbread man icing decorations or frosting. The milk gets quickly absorbed into the pieces, softening them and taking away some of the signature crunch. Somehow the notes of cinnamon that I didn’t get from the cereal dry are a little more apparent with milk, but that may be the way my taste buds interpret less ginger-y ginger.

While Gingerbread Spice Life may not have the candy button whimsy of an actual gingerbread man, it definitely takes the wonderful spicy flavors of the traditional holiday cookie and delivers them convincingly to the cereal bowl.

This is the first gingerbread cereal I’ve ever had and I’m impressed. Hopefully, more companies latch onto this wonderful flavor profile and do new fun things, because after all, it’s a lot like pumpkin spice, just without all the oversaturated hate.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 18 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly complex gingerbread flavor. Different bites yield different notes. Somewhat healthy.
Cons: Complexity doesn’t come through as much in milk. No cute candy buttons.