What are Popeyes Twisty Wicked Shrimp and Smoky Garlic Tartar Sauce
According to the webs, this takes the Cajun chicken chain’s shrimp (seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and jazzes things up by marinating the little buggers in sriracha. You know, for the promised wickedness. These caustic crustaceans are paired with a new Smoky Garlic Tartar Sauce, which is, well, smokier and more garlicky than any tartar sauce that came before it.
How is it?
NOT HOT. If you’re an avid capsaicinophile hoping that this new offering will set your mouth on fire, you’ll likely be let down. I can handle (and enjoy) a decent amount of heat, but perhaps more importantly to this review, I am sensitive to spice, and I can tell you, without fear of killing the weakest among you, that you will be able to eat this shrimp comfortably.
I was disappointed with the lack of heat, but not with the shrimp itself. The pieces were large, the seasoning familiar in its Popeyesicity (not sure I can detect the bay leaf buried deep in there, though), and the breading added the perfect amount of crunch.
The real revelation was the Smoky Garlic Tartar sauce, which, oddly enough, seemed to pack a heat the shrimp did not. The dip was nuanced —- a light sweetness contrasted with a heavy dill-ness, imbued with the aforementioned punch that was… maybe the smokiness? I’m not sure. But in short, it provided a nice compliment to the straight-forward, not-that-wicked shrimp.
Anything else you need to know?
As you can see in the picture above, my sauce didn’t come in one of the pre-packaged sauce containers as shown in promo pics, and the first time I went, they didn’t have the sauce at all. So, I guess what I’m saying is: if you live far away from a Popeyes and you’re interested in this, maybe call ahead. Because, while the shrimp is decent, it’s the sauce that really completes the experience.
If you’re an avid Popeye’s connoisseur, check it out. If you don’t get to Popeye’s all that often, get the chicken sandwich instead. Or the chicken. But seriously, the sandwich. Have you had that thing? Like Uncle Jesse always said, “have mercy.”
Purchased Price: $6.30 Size: N/A Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: Unavailable on Popeyes’ website
What is the Hissho Sushi Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Roll?
A unique and insanely creative sushi experience where Eastern cuisine meets Western snacking in the form of a Cheetos Flamin’ Hot sushi roll. The red-hot roll features spicy krab, crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, a drizzle of hot mayo along with avocado, cream cheese, and cucumber.
How is it?
Just like those Cheetos Rorschach tests where you try to come up with what your cheese puff looks like (Is that a beluga whale or Jesus Christ?) I’m having some trouble with this one. There are certainly some moments of divine intervention. The red color is spot-on and perfectly reminiscent of the spicy snack.
It has some great heat and the cooling trifecta of avocado, cream cheese, and cucumber was a genius idea. They are the perfect antidote to the spice that builds, especially from the hot mayo. Although it never gets as hot as the actual snack. The cucumber also offers a satisfying crunch, while the cream cheese has the most significant impact on flavor, really coming through amongst all the components with the krab and avocado occasionally showing up to the party in your mouth.
However, there are also some shortcomings considering the crazy concept. For this dangerously cheesy mashup, I couldn’t detect any cheese. The mashed-up Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and cheetle (the official name of the Cheetos dust!) are visibly present as they provide the fantastic bright red hue. Because of that, you would expect they would shine, but as far as any flavor or crunch goes, they are mostly just rendered inert by unfortunately dissolving into the moist sushi rice or mayo. It’s like a disappointing prank from the sly Chester Cheetah.
Anything else you need to know?
There is nothing bootleg here! This is an official collaboration between Frito-Lay and Hissho Sushi, and they are putting some serious money/resources behind it. Look at the sign that greeted me on my hunt for this. This is not at the sushi counter. This is at the front entrance to the entire grocery store!
This is an absolutely delicious spicy sushi roll with good heat, a gorgeous hue, and a multi-layered and refreshing cool crunch. I gobbled it up pretty quickly, actually. However, the spicy mayo and cream cheese overpower the star ingredient. I wish there was a hint of cheesiness and a heavier-handed approach to how the snack is showcased.
Purchased Price: $5.55 Size: 8.1 oz Purchased at: Giant Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 roll) 510 calories, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1160 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 4 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.
Introduced as part of the winter seasonal menu, the sandwich consists of two eggs, five half-slices of bacon, and white cheddar on sourdough toast. ?
How is it?
I find immense joy in all types of breakfast sandwiches, but with this one, I walked away and found myself saying, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.”
Unwrapping the massive sandwich, I was immediately greeted with a patchy toast pattern outside the sourdough bread. They aren’t toasting the bread and then putting the sandwich together. They assemble it and throw it in an oven to heat, which essentially acts like a broiler: the top is toasted, but the rest isn’t.
The two eggs give the illusion of freshly cracked eggs, but ultimately fall into the category of “egg-like” discs. The bacon, while plentiful, reminded me of the thin precooked kind you’d get at the store. However, the cheese was a nice change from the normal processed “cheese product” you’d find on most sandwiches. ?
The bread not being toasted evenly and thoroughly really took away from what could have been a fairly successful sandwich. Sourdough, in my opinion, is at its best when toasted. It is very chewy and doesn’t necessarily lend itself to being a good sandwich when it’s untoasted. This leads to uneven bites of bread without the middle ingredients. That said, the bread itself is high quality and has that rich, unmistakable sourdough flavor.
Anything else you need to know?
Right now, Dunkin’ is offering 2x Dunkin’ points on this item if you use the app until 12/01.
While I applaud Dunkin’ for taking a big swing, this one didn’t really pay off as well as I had hoped it would. While not the worst, it’s definitely not something I’d get again. It could probably be halfway decent if you get home and throw it in your air fryer or toaster oven. But let’s be real: most of us are just looking for something to shove in our faces between sips of coffee.
Purchased Price: $4.19 Size: N/A Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 serving) 650 calories, 32 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 365 milligrams of cholesterol, 1360 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 31 grams of protein.
Have you ever felt neglected or wanted more from your life? Or were you envious of the so-called cool kids and wondered why you weren’t one of them? If the vegetable world is any indicator, just keep the faith as soon the tide may change.
I mean, look at cauliflower. In my youth, it was the white broccoli that no one cared about. Not good enough to be showcased in those divine kid TV dinners, but also in the shadow of regular broccoli. My oh my, how things can change. Cauliflower is now the bell of the vegetable ball! It works as a mashed potato replacement or a base for pizza crust. If breaded and fried, it can even be a chicken wings substitute. WOW! You go, cauliflower! No one will ever doubt you again.
Cauliflower is the star ingredient in three new frozen Green Giant treats, with zucchini taking the reins for one as well. They are shaped like either rings or fries, seemingly so that they can replace your hankering for onion rings or French fries.
The packaging on all shouts that these are CRISPY & CRUNCHY. You will see below that the fries do a better job of achieving this. The fillings are also all very similar, more of a very slightly chunky puree. Akin to a potato mash, but not so heavy, with definitely a lighter hit to your stomach.
Cauliflower Three Cheese with Bacon Rings
These have a nice crunch, but also a subdued flavor. It’s tough to tell that the cheese is there, so I’d like to adjust the description to a one or two cheese flavor. Three is definitely pushing it. I thought it was going to ooze out, but I found only one or two orange pockets of goodness.
The bacon flavor is a little more prevalent, and I can definitely taste the smokiness throughout. I didn’t see any actual pieces, but bacon is there in the ingredient list. Coupled with the breading, the puree’s creaminess, the smokiness, and the occasional burst of cheese, these were pretty good. Nice complex flavor!
Purchased Price: $2.09 Purchased at: Acme Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (About 3 rings) 210 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.
Cauliflower French Onion Rings
These look similar to the one above, but with more herbs speckled throughout the filling. The French onion flavor is there, but it is at a level even less so than the cheese or bacon from the previous one. You definitely have to work for the taste, which is a tad artificial. It makes me long for an actual onion that I could slurp out of its deep fried shell. I was definitely missing onion rings while eating this one.
Purchased Price: $2.09 Purchased at: Acme Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (About 3 rings) 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.
Cauliflower Ranch with Bacon Fries
The fries’ preparation requires double the amount of oven time from the rings, but it makes a huge difference. While they do come out a little on the oily side, it is worth it as they come out super crispy. In fact, with my first few cauliflower fries, I thought I was maybe eating actual French fries for a second!!!
The filling stays really creamy, and it is a nice contrast to the crunchy outside. But the flavors for this one are disappointing. I taste zero bacon, but the ranch does make an appearance.
Purchased Price: $2.09 Purchased at: Acme Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (About 11 fries) 170 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Zucchini Garlic and Parmesan Fries
This last iteration uses zucchini as its base instead of cauliflower. It is a nice change of pace as you can really taste the zucchini. In contrast, cauliflower doesn’t have an intense flavor profile.
These are gloriously crispy like the other ones, and while there is a little bit of garlic, the parmesan is predominant and a bit intense. However, with everything going on, it actually becomes a little too salty, kind of ruining the entire experience.
Purchased Price: $2.09 Purchased at: Acme Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (About 11 fries) 180 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
French fries and onion rings are safe atop their deep fried throne, but if you are looking to switch it up and get a couple of servings of veggies in there, these are a fantastic choice.
You can probably skip the French onion rings and zucchini fries. Go for the three cheese rings as these are best eaten on their own with their multi-layered flavor. And definitely pick up the bacon ranch fries but make sure you eat them with your favorite condiment.
Amongst all this dining on rings and fries, I hope potatoes and onions don’t get too jealous!
What are Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares?
The latest addition to this year’s sugar cookie craze comes from none other than San Francisco’s own Ghirardelli Chocolate. Ghirardelli’s stocking stuffer-ready interpretation of the quintessential holiday treat combines rich white chocolate with cookie bits and festive sprinkles.
How are they?
For a company based on a reputation for high-quality chocolate, these cheery little squares definitely deliver. Unwrapping one of the extremely eye-pleasing twinkly teal wrappers gifts a lush and smooth white chocolate experience. It’s subtly sweet, crunchy, and creamy in a way that activates all of my mouth’s senses. Yet, it doesn’t feel too over the top or excessive like how white chocolate sometimes can.
For how thin the squares are, there is a surprising amount of cookies embedded, and they manage their way into every bite. Although the label doesn’t indicate it’s flavored white chocolate, you could have fooled me with how much of a genuine cookie flavor sneaks through. It’s not just white chocolate; it really tastes like a cookie.
Anything else you need to know?
Sugar cookies can run the gamut from soft to crunchy, sprinkled or frosted, buttery or sweet. While they have a very particular flavor, they’re also very versatile. The closest grocery cookie comparison I can give to these little squares is an extra creamy and rich Mother’s Circus Animal Cookie – and that’s a damn fine thing.
Of the other sugar cookie-flavored varietals I’ve tried this year – M&M’s and Kisses – these are the best representation of a buttery and nostalgic sugar cookie. Joining the ranks of Sugar Cookie Pop-Tarts and Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch, Ghirardelli has nailed cramming Christmas magic into proper white chocolate.
Purchased Price: $4.49 Size: 2.75 ounces Purchased at: Target Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (3 squares) 180 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 16 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.
From the pre-popped popcorn giant Smartfood comes Snickerdoodle, a “limited holiday flavor” meant to capture the magical, Home Ec essence of buttery cinnamon-sugar cookies. It is not Smartfood’s only sweet popcorn offering. Its regular lineup includes kettle corn and a caramel/cheddar combo. But it ties with this year’s earlier offerings of Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix and Cap’n Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix in terms of ambitiousness.
How is it?
Perfectly mediocre, I’m afraid. While the concept is a wonderful one — soft, warm, cinnamon blasted cookies in popcorn form! — the execution is lackluster. There is no uniformity, really, with about every tenth piece achieving a perfect nirvana of true Snickerdoodle bliss.
The pieces that escape the cinnamon-sugar bath are bland and unseasoned, small, chewy bits of lightly salted styrofoam. Also disappointing is the lack of a discernible butter profile, a key component of the cookie experience.
Anything else you need to know?
Smartfood White Cheddar is wonderful, so I had high hopes for this. Alas, my heart was broken. Additionally, I had no idea that the brand also has Hot Buffalo and Sour Cream & Onion versions. Are these any good? I guess that’s more of a “anything else *I* need to know.”
Lots of moderately sized cities seem to have “gourmet” popcorn shops these days, and, in my experience, most of these have some riff on the “cinnamon toast” popcorn variety. So do yourself a favor and get a bag of that, instead. Chances are, you’ll be much happier.
If you don’t have a gourmet popcorn shop, you should open one. And if you don’t want to do that, maybe go with a bag of Pop Secret and hit it with some of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust we recently reviewed. I feel like that would still beat this.
Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 6.25 oz bag Purchased at: Hy-Vee Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2.5 cups) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.