REVIEW: Little Caesars Slices-N-Stix Bacon

I am so glad the holidays are over. I enjoy all the specialness around the holidays, but the disruption to my routine year after year gets harder. If anything positive comes from the interruption, it’s that I can look at aspects of my routines and objectively decide if they are worth bringing into the new year. Our Pizza Saturdays made the cut without question. It started as an easy meal to throw in the oven after a long day of cleaning, but has become one we look forward to.

While we normally stick with frozen pizza, we decided to get Little Caesars’ Slices-N-Stix Bacon Pizza for our first Pizza Saturday in months. It isn’t an entirely new item (Slices-N-Stix has been on/off the menu since 2020), but this variation sees bacon added to the Italian Cheese Stix side. The basic idea behind the menu item is that you get the best of both worlds: half is a traditional pepperoni pizza, and the other is eight cheese sticks.

Ordering was a breeze through the app, but picking up was a bit of an ordeal. I’ll spare you the details, but I will say it’s always a good idea to check your food. Honestly, I don’t blame the employees for messing up, considering the item sounds like the pizza side should have bacon, but I am glad they fixed it quickly.

Little Caesars is at its best when it sticks with simple, and this item exemplifies that. The pepperoni pizza side is the standard Little Caesars recipe. It had been a while since I had one, and I genuinely enjoyed it. However, the star of the item was the Stix side. The bacon bits had gotten crispy during the cooking process, which added a nice textural difference to the soft cheesy Stix. The bacon also added an enjoyable smokey flavor. I think my overall favorite aspect was how it was the perfect amount for two people. We each had two slices and four Stix to enjoy.

The only criticism I have was the level of grease that seemed to come from the bacon cheese Stix side of the item. It certainly didn’t stop me from eating them, but I’m sure the addition of the bacon increased the grease levels significantly.

The Little Caesars Slices-N-Stix Bacon Pizza was a nice departure from our regular frozen pizza. I had worried that having half pizza/half stix would mean less quality with both, but it proved to be quite delicious. Honestly, I was impressed enough that we’ll make it a once-a-month treat going forward (as long as Little Caesars makes it). While I like familiarity and consistency with my foods, it is nice to shake it up every now and then.

Purchased Price: $7.99
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice of pizza, 2 breadsticks) 623 calories, 29 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 59 milligrams of cholesterol, 1373 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sonic Steak and Bacon Grilled Cheese

If there was a Year in Review that covered the food I ate last year, Sonic would easily get the “Most Visited” award. Interestingly, when I started 2022, I wouldn’t have guessed Sonic would get that top honor. Rekindling my love of its slushies and the ease of ordering through the app has made Sonic my go-to. I also like that the app offers the chance to try new items before they have a menu-wide release. When I opened the app to order a slush in December, a screen popped up advertising the new Steak and Bacon Grilled Cheese.

The sandwich is an interesting offering. Instead of a hamburger patty, the protein is grilled steak mixed with onions. It’s also topped with bacon and cheese and finished with BBQ sauce and mayo between two slices of Texas toast. It was a no-brainer that I’d order it as it reminded me of a similar favorite sandwich no longer offered at my local Sonic that had a beef patty and onion ring.

I was worried the 10-minute drive home would yield a more soggy sandwich, but the Texas toast held up well against the more moist elements of the sandwich (the mayo, BBQ sauce, and steak). Looking under the hood, I was pleasantly surprised to see larger slices of steak. Generally, in my experience, fast food “steak” tends to be small and tough. While there were some little pieces, a majority were larger slices. The grilled onion pieces mixed in got a little lost to me. Overall, the steak was pretty good for a fast food offering. It was tender, smoky, and a nice change from the usual beef patty.

The bacon added a nice salty crunch to the sandwich and worked well with the steak instead of fighting for protein dominance. The BBQ sauce had a sweetness, and the mayo added the rich creaminess I enjoyed. The cheese contributed little, but it also didn’t detract from the sandwich. All the different elements worked well together to deliver a delicious sandwich.

For an impulse buy, it ended up being a great sandwich. More than anything, it was a nice change from the norm. The steak was surprisingly good, and the sandwich held up well on the drive home. It’s a limited time offering that, if it’s still around when I get my next slush fix, I will absolutely order again. Oh, and if you want spicy, Sonic does offer a version that adds jalapenos and zesty cheese sauce.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 830 calories, 56 grams of fat, 19 grams of saturated fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 2190 milligrams of sodium, 51 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Popeyes Blackened Chicken Sandwich

It is undeniable the impact the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich continues to have on the fast food landscape over three years since it first debuted. With its newest offering, Popeyes is looking at the unbreaded chicken sandwich options and raising the bar yet again. The Popeyes Blackened Chicken Sandwich starts with a 12-hour marinated filet that is finished with a unique blend of spices that give the item a signature blackened flavor. After frying it, it’s placed on a brioche bun with crisp pickles and mayo (or spicy sauce if you opt for the Spicy version).

While I am a huge fan of the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich, I was a little worried about this new version. Unbreaded (“grilled”) chicken sandwiches at fast food restaurants are usually awful in my experience. They are often a bizarre textural blend of wet on the outside but dry on the inside. I also wanted to find out how the blackened flavor would be as I’ve had some instances where it overpowered the protein it’s used on.

The aromatic smell of the spices was absolutely delightful as I took the sandwich out of its bag. In case you’re not familiar, blackened seasoning is a blend of spices that usually has paprika as the base with cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and garlic. Popeyes’ version adds three types of pepper (red, black, white) and cumin to give it a unique flavor profile.

The blend that Popeyes developed for this sandwich was perfect. It’s well balanced to have a bit of the peppery spice but not cross into painfully spicy. There was even a bit of sweetness in the seasoning that really pushed it over the edge in terms of deliciousness. Since this was an unbreaded filet, I was incredibly curious about how it would come out. My worries about it being overly dry were immediately put to rest as I cut the sandwich in half.

The outside of the filet was crisp but not dry, and the inside was incredibly juicy and tender. The mayo and pickles work well with the blackened seasoning by supporting it and not competing with it. The brioche bun elevates the whole thing by adding a slight sweetness. The first few bites were nearly perfect, until the chicken’s succulence started to create a soggy mess. I think the person who made the sandwich went a little heavy on the mayo, and the bun wasn’t nearly toasted enough to stand up to the components as they sat longer.

There is no doubt in my mind that Popeyes continues to set the bar when it comes to chicken sandwiches. Even though it wasn’t made “perfectly,” my sandwich was incredibly delicious. The blackened seasoning works well, the unbreaded chicken filet is extremely tasty, and when you get that bite with all the ingredients, it’s just an enjoyable flavor experience. I will absolutely get this again and look forward to trying the spicy variation.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 550 calories, 29 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1900 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Cookie Butter Cold Brew

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew Whole

Did you know that cookie butter has been around since 2007? It was first pitched on a Belgium TV competition show (similar to Shark Tank) and caught the attention of Lotus Biscoff. The sweet, spiced spread is a unique blend of flavors that I wasn’t sure Dunkin’ could capture in its newest holiday offering — the Cookie Butter Cold Brew.

Starting with the slow-steeped cold brew coffee, the drink is then sweetened with a brown sugar cookie flavor, topped with cookie butter cold foam, and finished with cookie butter crumbles. Being a cold brew fan, I was happy that the newest holiday drink wasn’t a hot beverage. Don’t get me wrong, I will absolutely enjoy a hot peppermint mocha the week of Christmas, even when the weather is still in the 80s, but I like to stick with cold drinks most of the time.

I was happy to see it look fairly close to the promotional materials. The first sip was mostly a mouthful of the crunchy cookie butter crumble, but once the cold brew broke through, I got a better sense of the overall drink. Unlike a majority of Dunkin’ coffee beverages I’ve tried, the sweetness level was much more measured. The balance of the spice from the cookie butter crumbles and cold foam cuts down on the cloyingly sweet nature of most Dunkin’ drinks.

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew Foam

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew Top

The cookie butter cold foam was delicious from the bit I could taste. Unfortunately, on the 10-minute ride home, it had all but dissolved into the beverage. While it was no longer as strong, it blended well by adding a creaminess to the strong cold brew. The brown sugar cookie flavor wasn’t as noticeable, but when competing with a very loud taste like cookie butter, that’s not a shock. I can’t speak on its comparison to the much missed Starbucks Gingerbread Latte, but the strong cookie butter flavor certainly invokes a gingerbread-like taste.

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew Dissolve

While the cold foam blended in well as it melted, the cookie butter crumbles didn’t fare so well. By the time I got home, half sat at the top like cereal floating on the cold brew, and the other half had sunk to the bottom. Mixing just made them smaller and created a weird mouth feel to the sips that were like wet sand.

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew Bottom

Dunkin Cookie Butter Cold Brew Topping

Dunkin’s Cookie Butter Cold Brew is a unique offering that, with those initial sips, brings a fun flavor to the chain’s holiday lineup. Unfortunately, if you are a slow drinker like myself, you risk it melting into a less pleasant drinking experience, texturally speaking. The overall flavor is wonderful, but not good enough for me to ignore the gritty crumble that settled to the bottom of my cup.

Purchased Price: $5.09
Size: Large
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 390 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 53 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Pizza Hut Supremo Detroit-Style Pizza

Pizza Hut Supremo Detroit Style Pizza Box

It wasn’t a conscious choice on my or my husband’s part, but we’ve slowly slipped into a routine where every Saturday is pizza for dinner. When the targeted Pizza Hut ad came across YouTube advertising the return of the Detroit-Style pizza, I knew where our next Saturday pizza would be coming from.

First introduced in January 2021, this is the third release of this limited-time-only pizza from the chain. A departure from its standard circular offerings, the Detroit-Style pizza stands out with its rectangular shape, thick crust, extra cheese, and sauce strips on top. When it comes to toppings, you can choose from three recipes or build your own. We went with the Supremo, a new option that included Italian sausage, green peppers, and red onions.

I missed out on trying the item the first two times, so I was excited to get a chance to taste it for myself. While I am very much in the camp of NY Style pizza, I have a soft spot for the thicker pan-pizzas. I was shocked by the box’s weight when I picked it up. It’s certainly a lot of pizza in a smaller container.

Pizza Hut Supremo Detroit Style Pizza Top

When opening the box, I couldn’t help but immediately notice the sauce unevenly globbed on top of the pizza. I expected this and was ready to spread it more evenly across the pizza with my spoon. Visually, the green peppers and Italian sausage were there and well distributed throughout the item. The red onions were, unfortunately, substituted with their boring cousin: white onions.

Pizza Hut Supremo Detroit Style Pizza Slice Smothered

I went for a corner like the packaging recommended for my first piece. My first bite was overwhelmingly dominated by Pizza Hut’s sweet sauce, and I had never realized how sweet it was until this moment. In an effort to taste more than just the sauce, I scraped some off the top. My second bite was much more enjoyable without the mouthful of sweet red sauce. The focaccia-like texture of the crust was absolutely delightful. It was light but also had a denseness that held up to the toppings.

The toppings were present but got a bit lost in the sauce, so to speak. The Italian sausage brought an earthy savoriness, and the green peppers brought a bright crispness to the pizza when you got a bite not drowning in sweet sauce. The onions were barely noticeable both in flavor and visually. The cheese was the star for me with this item. The salty, gooeyness helped save the pizza from being completely overwhelmed by the sauce and greatly improved my enjoyment of it.

Obviously, this is a popular item to be on its third limited edition run in less than two years, but it was middle-of-the-road for me. I liked the base, cheese, and toppings, but the sauce was a huge negative for my personal tastes. If it was a less sweet sauce, it might have been a hit for me, but as it is now, it’s not something I’d get again.

Purchased Price: $12.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 square) 290 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.