Wednesday, November 8, 2017

REVIEW: PB & J Oreos

I've known about these Peanut Butter & Jelly Oreos for awhile now, but haven't been able to find them anywhere. That's because they're only available at Kroger stores, and I don't have one anywhere near me. 

I kept hoping I'd stumble upon them somewhere, but alas--I had to end up ordering them through Amazon.  Here's a link, if you're inclined to do the same.

The only down side is that they were more expensive than I'm used to paying--that link above is for only one package, and it's around $11.  If you trust me that you're going to love these, then go ahead and use THIS link on Amazon, to order two packages for $13.

And YES, you'll be glad you did.

This is one of my favorite Limited Edition flavors thus far, and I'm not even a huge fan of PB&J.  One of the things I look for is how authentic the flavor is--how close it comes to what it's supposed to taste like--and the balance between that flavor and the rest of the cookie.   These were pretty darn near perfect.  I wanted a little more jelly flavor in the first one I tried, but my husband said he'd prefer a touch more peanut butter, so I think it depends on which cookie you grab first.  Overall, I think the ratio is just right. 

The other criteria that I use for whether or not these Limited Edition flavors are worth purchasing is whether or not the flavor they're imitating can be achieved just as easily, or almost as easily, if you go ahead and make the real thing.  For example: Blueberry Pie Oreos are really good, and it's much easier to rip open a package of Oreos than to bake an entire pie. You could also purchase a pre-made pie, but the calories in a slice of pie would be higher than in the Oreos, so I would still prefer to go that route.

While I'm all too familiar with how easy it is to make a PB&J sandwich--it's what I pack for my picky-eater's lunch nearly every single day of the week--I think these Oreos meet the "easier than the real thing" criteria quite nicely.  You get a very similar flavor profile, but without having to actually make a sandwich--count me in!

Final grade: A

Sunday, November 5, 2017

REVIEW: Hot Cocoa Oreos

Well, this was a pleasant surprise: I was shopping at my local grocery store yesterday, and stumbled up on an new Limited Edition Oreo flavor that I hadn't known about. (Within minutes of a new flavor being announced, I am typically bombarded with messages and Facebook tags from friends who know about my little "Oreo Taste Test" hobby and want to make sure I get a heads up. I love these people.)

 My first thought upon seeing Hot Cocoa Oreo cookies: this has got to be a home run for Nabisco. How can you possibly mess this up?

Don't worry, they didn't--but this one didn't exactly rock my world, either.

The outside is the traditional chocolate Oreo sandwich cookie, and the filling inside is a combination of marshmallow flavored creme and cocoa creme.  Visually, it looks inviting, so that's a plus, but when you take a bite....it's just....an Oreo.  The white creme is very similar to standard Oreo filling, and the cocoa creme is overpowered by the chocolate in the sandwich cookie, so all you get is the standard Oreo flavor you've come to know, with maybe a hint of cocoa at the finish.

THE VERDICT: I would rate Hot Cocoa Oreo Cookies a B+, but honestly, that's a teeny bit generous.  There's no denying that they're tasty, but there's nothing extra-special about them, other than the concept of "hot cocoa in a cookie." I wouldn't bother buying these again, because the Limited Edition packs tend to be smaller and more pricey than the standard Oreo packages, and there's no reason to pay more for what is basically the same flavor profile.

To purchase these on Amazon, click HERE.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Easy Halloween Cupcakes : Mummies!

My daughter is having a Halloween party tonight, and I want it be as fuss-free as possible. These are 17 and 18 year olds, so I'm planning to just put out a few bowls of chips, dip, pretzels, candy, and order a few pizzas, depending on how many kids show up.  Ideally, I'd like to just bring everything down to our finished basement, set it out on the table, and let the kids help themselves.

For serve-yourself dessert, there's nothing better than cupcakes--no hassle with cutting into a cake, deciding how big to make the pieces, having that ONE person who says, "Oh, well, okay, maybe just a SLIVER" and of course the sliver is never quite thin enough. Yeah, cupcakes are the way to go.

Unfortunately, this week kind of got away from me, and I found myself scrambling to get ready for this shindig of hers. These Mummy Cupcakes ended up being the perfect solution: they're super-easy to make, and I was actually able to find the candy "eyes" at my local supermarket, which clinched the decision to make these.

I used boxed Devil's Food Cake for the cupcakes, making two adjustments to the recipe instructions: I added boiling water to the cake mix (stirring well before adding any of the other ingredients--didn't want to cook the eggs) because I've heard that helps the chocolate flavor "bloom" better than if you use room temperature or cold water.  I did seem to make a difference, because the final product was tasted great.  I also substituted some unsalted butter in place of half the oil, to add richness without it being too dense.

As for the frosting, I hedged my bets and bought two kinds: regular white frosting, and
the spray can type that comes with a flat ribbon tip.   After cupcakes were completely cooled, I used the regular frosting to cover most of the cupcake, leaving a crescent-shaped opening for the eyes (which got smaller after the bandages were added). Then I stuck on the eyes in the empty spot using a small dollop of frosting, and handed it off to my husband to pipe on the frosting "bandages" with the spray-on cupcake frosting.  In his own words, it was a lot of fun to do, because "you can't screw it up."  The messier and more random the bandages look, the better.

Of course, we had to sample one or two, for "quality control" purposes. They passed with flying colors!  This will definitely be my go-to choice for Halloween desserts from now on.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Meeting the Pioneer Woman -- Come & Get It Cookbook Signing

Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting Ree Drummond, the Food Network star and food blogger more commonly known as The Pioneer Woman. Her new cookbook, Come and Get It, debuts tomorrow, but she had a book signing tonight in New Jersey that I was privileged to attend.

I have several of her cookbooks, but this new one just might be my favorite.

Not only is the book filled with recipes that sound amazing--Lobster Mac N Cheese, Roasted Garlic Pull-Apart Bread, Edna Mae's Escalloped Cabbage--it includes tips on stocking up so that you can whip up these dishes with ingredients you already have on hand. The book includes helpful lists such as: 20 Favorite Pantry Items, 12 Freezer Staples, 15 Fridge Staples, and Ree's 12 Favorite Cuts of Beef (with descriptions for each).  This edition also had an Added Bonus Section with additional recipes just for Barnes and Noble customers, including Jalapeno Scones and Slow Cooker Ancho Chili Brisket, Mexican Macaroni Salad, and Ladd's Favorite Chocolate Pie.

The best thing about tonight was seeing just how warm and genuine Ree is in person--she is exactly the same as she appears to be on television.  I loved meeting her, and had a great time hanging out with other PW fans while we waited for Ree to arrive.

I wore my red cowboy boots (on purpose, of course) and when Ree saw them, she said, "Hey, we're
boot sisters!"  I'd like to take this literally, and consider it an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner, so hopefully things won't be too awkward when I show up in Pawhuska next month.  (I hope she seats me next to Ladd's dad, Pa-Pa.)

Below is a video that I took at the signing. We were told multiple times that this was a signing only, and that there would be no talk or interaction beforehand.  Of course, Ree had other ideas, and started off by taking questions from her fans, which shows what a down-to-earth, friendly person she is. Apologies for the delay at the beginning: they said she would be right out, but there was a bit of a wait before she actually emerged.

She was worth the wait!  Such a pleasure--I'm an even bigger fan now that I met her, and I can't wait to make the recipes in this latest book.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Wisdom for "Complainers" from Rudy Francisco: "You're Still Alive"

Based one this video alone, I just pre-ordered his upcoming book of poetry, Helium




To pre-order his book from Amazon.com, click the here 


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spanx...for your Arms?!?

I was flipping through a magazine and saw this ad for "Arm Tights" by Spanx.


This strikes me as not-too-subtle body shaming for women who are self conscious about their upper arms.  Layering a long sleeve or 3/4 sleeve shirt under a sleeveless outfit is nothing new, which means it's already possible to wear sleeveless outfits all year long. So why the need for a new product, if not to shame women into thinking they somehow need to "tighten up" their arms if they want to wear sleeveless outfits? Hardly a "game-changer.".  Nope...not falling for it.

#freethebatwing

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hot Cocoa and Mocha Latte in a Jar!

Last Saturday, the Pioneer Woman had an episode where she made "care package" gifts, including "Hot Chocolate in a Jar."  As soon as I saw them, I knew I wanted to make them as gifts.


They came out great!  I posted about it on Facebook, and someone asked me if there was a coffee-based version.  Hmmm....challenge accepted!

I ended up creating a Mocha Latte version, too--and it's really good!

Let's start with the hot cocoa version from The Pioneer Woman  Layer the following ingredients in a 4 oz Ball storage jar (available on Amazon):

1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons of powdered milk
1 Tablespoon of grated semisweet chocolate
12 miniature marshmallows


For the Mocha Latte version, all I did was scale back the cocoa powder and swap in some Instant Espresso Coffee, layered as follows:

1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon of powdered milk
1 Tablespoon of Instant Espresso Coffee
1 Tablespoon of powdered milk

There's a bit of room at the top of this, and I'm not sure what I would put to fill the gap. Marshmallows seem like an odd choice...I think maybe crushed candy canes might work, especially if this is given at Christmastime.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas: 2017 Holiday Movie Schedule!

It's nearly time for the return of one of my most cherished guilty pleasures: cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies!

I still have several them saved on my DVR from last year--they're an effective antidote for a bad day, any time of year. At this moment, I've got The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Nine Lives of Christmas, Christmas with Holly, and A Crown for Christmas ready and waiting at a moment's notice.

There's  a new crop of movies that will be debuting next weekend, and you can bet I'll be watching (and probably reviewing) every single one of them.

You can see the full 2017 schedule and descriptions of each movie on Hallmark's website. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

REVIEW: Mystery Flavor Oreos and Cookie Butter Oreos

I've been a bit remiss is staying caught up with my Oreo cookie "Limited edition" flavor reviews, but after finding packages all over the house waiting for me to post my reviews, I decided it's time to get caught up.

These two flavors are the most recent ones, spotted today at my local ShopRite: Cookie Butter Oreos and, debuting this week, the Mystery Flavor Oreo.

Short take:  Cookie Butter, B ,  Mystery Flavor, F

The details:

I've never been a huge fan of Cookie Butter to start with--nothing wrong with it, per se, I just don't find it as "swoon-worthy" as some of my other cookie aficianado friends.  Nevertheless, I give flavor profile a B.  It's not something I would buy again, but there's a nice overall ratio of cookie butter creme to sandwich cookie, and the graham cracker flavor cookie pairs well with the cookie butter creme (chocolate would have completely overpowered it). The reason this cookie doesn't earn a higher mark from me is that the flavors are almost too similar--when you bite into it, it doesn't scream "Cookie Butter Cookie!" to me, it's just, "Oh, yeah, that's nice. A little on the sweet side. Whatever."

I also deducted points for the consistency of the cookie butter. It's very grainy, to the point of being unpleasant in terms of mouth-feel.   Would I eat a handful of these if I were snowbound, with a big glass of milk? Yes. Would I go out of my way to buy these over classic Oreos?  No.

Next up: Mystery Flavor Oreos.

The premise: If you can figure out what flavor these cookies represent, you could be chosen to win $50,000 in prize money from Nabisco.

I'm not trying to be unkind, really I'm not, but here's my honest opinion: Nabisco created this cookie, and realized that taste is so disgusting, the ONLY way anyone would be enticed to purchase it is with the promise that they could win $50,000.   Yes, friends, it's THAT bad.

This is one Mystery that should never be solved. But I do have a guess: the creme inside the Mystery Flavor Oreos tastes a lot like Fruity Pebbles cereal. (Which is odd that they'd revisit that flavor profile, since they already released a "Fruity Crisp" flavor, which I reviewed previously HERE.)  Perhaps this one is Trix cereal, rather than Fruity Pebbles? Either way, they're cloying and overly-sweet, with a mish-mosh of sickeningly artificial flavors that smell almost as bad as they taste.  Listen, I'm not averse to eating chemicals--there's nothing I love more in this world than a cheap box of Mac 'n Cheese made with lab-created cheese-like powder. Food of the Gods, I tell you.

But this...this is a clear case of chemical engineering gone horribly , terribly wrong.

,
Yes, I entered the contest.  If, by some miracle, I win the $50,000, I'm going to pay off the CEO of Mondelez to guarantee that every copy of the recipe for this flavor is immediately destroyed.

You're welcome.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Linkin Park: One More Light

I heard this song One More Light a couple of weeks ago on Train Tracks, Pat Monahan's show on SiriusXM, and I've been obsessed with it ever since.

It's a beautiful song, and perfectly expresses the sadness you feel when you lose a loved one. Life is short, and while it's true that the person you lost was just one of many human beings in the vast universe we live in, to you, that one life mattered, and will be missed.

This is the video released after Chester Bennington's death in July of this year.  It's a lovely tribute to a gifted artist whose light left us too soon.



This song is available on Amazon.com HERE

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Parental Guilt and the First Child Learning Curve

"The Wedge"
I just read a report that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is now recommending that parents never use sleep positioners for their babies, due to the risk of suffocation. 

Upon hearing this, I can't help but hark back to 1994, when I had my first child. At the time, the "must have" item for newborns was something called "The Wedge," which was designed to keep your child sleeping on her side--at the time, the safest position to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  So of course, I made sure I had one in our nursery, and used it faithfully even though my daughter hated it. It didn't last--my daughter kept squirming and waking up, trying to lay flat on her back.   I desperately wanted my baby to be safe, but after several sleepless nights, I gave up and ditched the wedge. And guess what? She slept like a rock from that night onwards.

"Bolster-Style Positioner"
A few years later, the "experts" completely switched up the narrative, and launched a new campaign, "Back to Sleep", encouraging parents to have their babies sleep flat on their backs, rather than their sides.  So, out went the wedges and in came the "bolster" positioners, designed to keep babies laying flat. 

Now, they're eschewing that notion altogether, and recommending the "ABC's" for safe newborn sleeping: Always on their Back in an empty Crib.  No positioners, no wedges, no stuffed animals or blankets or props of any kind. 

While I certainly appreciate the FDA's mission to make safety recommendations and save lives, I can do without the fear and guilt that they inevitably inflict on parents.  Now that my children are grown, I can attest that you can screw up every now and then (and you will), and your child will turn out just fine.  You can also follow all of the safety recommendations, do every single thing you're supposed to do, and something can still go horribly awry.  Even the so-called experts can get it wrong. 

Yes, current conventional wisdom says that you should put your baby on her back to sleep. But it's not a panacea that will guarantee her safety. If, god forbid, something bad happens, please know that it's not your fault.  Babies don't come with an instruction manual, and the only tried-and-true directives for new parents are to love their babies unconditionally, and do the best you can.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Homemade Grand Marnier

Last year, I attempted making Limoncello for the first time, and it was a great success. (We still have lots in the freezer, though, and I'm told it only lasts about a year, so I'm going to have to start recruiting people to drink it before the new batch is ready.)

This year, I halved the recipe for the Limoncello, and decided to try something new: orange liqueur.  My sister-in-law loves to have French Coffee, which is just regular coffee with a splash of Grand Marnier.  After looking through a few recipes online, I settled on this one from "Foodie Misadventures" because it seems pretty simple, and only takes about 4 weeks.

I'm very happy with the way the peels turned out, and it took a lot less time than zesting all of the lemons for the Limoncello, because I use a zester for that recipe that grates the peel, rather than producing slices. 

This time, I used my favorite vegetable peeler, the one that slips on your finger like a ring, rather than the kind with a handle, and it did a fantastic job of peeling away just the orange part of the peel, without any of white pith (which would make the liqueur bitter--not good). It's the only vegetable peeler that I use now when I cook, because I find the traditional handle one a little cumbersome.   This is it, click the link or the photo at right to find it on Amazon.com:


Now, all I have to do is keep it in a cool, dark place (my spot of choice: a shelf in my bedroom closet), stir it up once a week, and wait 4 weeks before proceeding to Step 2 (which is adding the simple syrup, straining it all, and then bottling.  I'm exciting to try something new, and will do a follow-up post to let you know how it turned out.  Fingers crossed! 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Ginormous Mushroom

It's not uncommon for us to find wild mushrooms growing in our yard during the summer, particularly when we've had some humid weather (and no, we NEVER eat them--not worth the risk!), but every once in a while we get a giant mushroom like this one: 


I'm told it's a "puffball mushroom". This one seems to love the spotlight--literally! It's already almost the size of a volleyball, and still growing.  I'm going to leave it alone and see just how big it can get.

UPDATE: September 25th: Yes, it's officially larger than a volleyball. 



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Forgive Me, But I Laughed

Spotted this totally awful Halloween t-shirt at Walmart, and laughed way harder than I should have:



Fun fact: it also glows in the dark.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rebuilding

Well, last night I was blindsided to discover that, through a series of unknown clerical mishaps, my domain and hosting provider removed my personal website--without backing it up--and it is now gone. (Of course, nothing is truly gone forever on the internet--thank the lord above for Wayback Machine.)

I was very upset about it last night, because that website is where I kept my online portfolio, and where I pointed editors to whom I was pitching article ideas.  I had planned to give it an overhaul one day soon, when my client work died down a bit, but now it seems that time is at hand, whether I'm ready for it or not.

This morning, I'm glad to report that I'm feeling far more zen about the entire thing. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and that ultimately, this will turn out to be a blessing.  (I choose not to focus on the "What Ifs," such as "What if there was a great assignment coming my way, but the editor tried to access my website and couldn't, so she moved on to the next writer?"  What Ifs are the worst--don't do it!)

It also helped me to get some perspective when I read about the island of Barbuda, and how it is now uninhabited for the first time in over 300 years, as a result of being completely decimated by Hurricane Irma.  It will take them years to rebuild the island, and thousands of people have been displaced (now living on the nearby island of Antigua, which wasn't hit as hard.)   So yes, I really don't have much to complain about--my efforts to rebuild pale in comparison to what those folks are going through.

CURRENT MOOD:


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Making Sense of Your Free Credit Score

Earlier today, I had a friend who was questioning the info she'd gotten on her credit score report--it didn't seem to jive with what she expected, and she was stressing over it.  Ever since the cyber-hack on the Equifax site, lots of people have been trying to monitor their credit more closely, and with good reason. 

I'll confess, I don't pay too much attention to any of that--not because I don't care, but because my husband is actually so on top of it, I know I'm in good hands.  He even blogs about it, so if you're looking for some good advice on how to make sense of your credit scores, how to find good deals on credit card rewards, or how to get the most out of your credit card usage (converting points to cash back, or using points for free travel and hotel stays, etc.), feel free to check out PointsYak.com. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" : Destined to Be Everyone's Wedding Song for the Next 5 Years

Seriously, though....the song "Perfect" off of Ed Sheeran's album "Divide" is tailor-made to be THE wedding song for at least the next 5 years.  It's got a beautiful melody, and let's face it: everything this guy touches lately turns to gold (or platinum). 

If you haven't heard it yet, check it out:


Friday, September 8, 2017

As Seen on TV: The Sock Slider

Have you seen this commercial yet? It's for a product called "The Sock Slider"-- and it promises that you'll never have to bend down again to put your socks on.



This is actually pretty ingenious. If you're an able-bodied person, putting on your socks is something you take for granted. But, if you've ever been injured, or in the late stages of a pregnancy, you know that bending down just isn't in the cards sometimes.

I'm thankful that I don't need one of these right now, but I am definitely going to pick on up for our "crappy Christmas" game on Christmas Eve.  Like the "Snuggie" was in years past, I'm sure this will be the most sought after item in the bunch.

If you want to buy one, you can find it on Amazon.com for $24.99:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ice Cream for Breakfast: A Long-Standing Family Tradition is Finally Validated

When my children were very young, I started a family tradition that has endured to this day: on the morning of your birthday, you can have ANYTHING you want for breakfast.

That's right, no limits.  A hamburger with all the trimmings? Sure thing.  Macaroni and Cheese? Absolutely.

Ice cream?  Of course!

And yes, ice cream has long been the preferred choice of all 3 of my daughters over the years.  Sometimes it's on a chocolate chip waffle, or served on a pancake, or just part of a great big sundae with whipped cream and tons of toppings.

Now, there's actually a study that says eating ice cream for breakfast can improve your overall alertness and mental performance.  You can read more at the International Business Times.

I guess I was ahead of the curve on that one!

Christina's 12th Birthday


Amy's 10th Birthday
Cathy's 10th Birthday

Friday, September 1, 2017

Mysterious Illness Affecting U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: A Theory

This story about the illnesses suffered by U.S. Diplomats in Cuba just keeps getting stranger and stranger.  You can read the latest report by the Daily Mail at this link: 


Quick overview: more than a dozen U.S. diplomats in Cuba have fallen ill between November 2016 and April 2017 (and now, another 3 people have fallen ill in August 2017), due to what is believed to be an attack using some form of sonic weapon.  According to the article, "some have lost their hearing and others suffered mild brain injuries."  

Very scary stuff.  It reminded me of the work by Royal Raymond Rife, an American inventor who some claimed had found the cure for cancer, but was thwarted by a conspiracy because traditional cancer treatments are a big money maker for pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.  I have no idea if his research was valid or not, but the part that was interesting (and that reminds me of what's happening to these diplomats) is that Rife claimed he could cure diseases like cancer by using sound waves modulated to a particular frequency that would disrupt the "bad" cells while leaving the healthy cells intact.  He asserted that all cells vibrate on a certain frequency, and it was simply a matter of finding the one that cancer cells responded to, and then destroying them.  You can read more about these claims HERE

Hearing this mystery about the diplomats makes me wonder if someone has managed to replicate Rife's work, and has created a device that is disrupting the healthy cells in these diplomats, damaging them.   I know, it sounds nuts, but conspiracy theories always do.  Whatever it is that's making these people sick, I really hope they figure it out. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wisdom from Rumi - Raise Your Words, Not Your Voice

I saw this saying posted by a friend, and had to share it.  I'm so tired of all the anger and hate that I'm seeing, not only in our world, but on all forms of social media. Just when I think the level of dialogue can't possibly get any lower, the bottom falls out.  We can't even seem to talk to one another anymore--it's all insults and memes and sound bites shared without regard to the impact it will have on others. I feel like we've all been dragged down into the gutter, and instead of trying to lift each other up--and out--we're just digging in and taking up residence there. The path to stopping this nonsense and moving forward starts with each one of us. Let's put aside the pettiness and start actually communicating with one another again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Leafblowers Should Not Run for More than 30 Minutes at a time

Most days, I work out of a home office.  I know how lucky I am to have that opportunity, especially after so many years spent commuting every single day. 

Nevertheless, the sirens and car horns and other noises of NYC would be a welcome respite to what I endure now: the constant drone of lawnmowers, particularly at this time of year.  I understand that the landscaper that maintains the properties around me is only doing his job, but I swear, he goes into some sort of a trance when he's got that leaf blower going.  He just shuffles along, swaying the blower from side to side slowly, for HOURS.  The noise is deafening--but, unlike myself, he's wearing huge headphones to drown out the sound.  Not exactly an option when I'm on conference calls or trying to go about my daily tasks.  

Dear Universe: someone needs to invent a leaf blowing machine that automatically shuts off after 1 hour of continuous use, and cannot be turned on again for at least 30 minutes after that.  My ears would be immensely grateful.  Thanks in advance.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

My daughter Christina took this great photo of today's Solar Eclipse, which was only partially visible in our area:


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Food Review: Apple Pie Oreos

The latest offering in the Oreo Limited Edition flavor line: Apple Pie Oreos.

This one sounded really promising to me: after all, it's pretty hard to mess up apple pie, right?

Once again, the sandwich cookie portion is Graham flavored, to mimic a typical pie crust.  Understandable.  The thing is, the graham flavor doesn't tend to add anything to the cookie itself--the traditional chocolate cookies have a decadence factor that is completely lost when they switch to the more sedate graham version. 

So, that being the case, the pressure is on to make sure you totally nail the flavor of the filling. Alas, these miss the mark, in a big way.   The apple flavoring is off.  It reminds me of Green Apple Jolly Ranchers--which, while quite tasty, do not actually resemble the crisp, clean, refreshing flavor of a real apple. 

Same with these cookies.  The creme filling has a weird, almost sour bite to it, yet is also very sweet.  It's just an odd combo, and doesn't make for an overall pleasant experience. Disappointing.

The final verdict for Apple Pie Oreo cookies?  I give them a C. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lays Potato Chips' Do Us A Flavor 2017: Review of Everything Bagel, Fried Green Tomato, and Crispy Taco

My favorite competition of year: the Lay's Do Us  Flavor contest to choose the next Limited Edition flavor of Lay's Potato Chips.  It's an eclectic group this time:  Everything Bagel, Crispy Taco, and Fried Green Tomato

Quick takes:

Everything Bagel, B
Crispy Taco,
Fried Green Tomato, C

Details:

Everything Bagel was the best of the 3 flavors this year.  It had a distinct-and-not-unpleasant poppy-seed flavor, a very subtle sour cream & onion aftertaste, but not much else. The crunch from the Kettle Cooked preparation worked well with this flavor, so bonus points for that.

Crispy Taco should be avoided at all costs.  I know you're curious, but run, don't walk, away from this abomination.  The minute I opened the bag, I knew I was not in for a good experience. The aroma was akin to lettuce that has started turn, and the overall flavor profile was wilted lettuce and tomato with taco seasoning.  The combination smells slightly worse than dry dog food, and (assuming here) taste about the same.  (I encourage any dogs who read this blog to reach out to me if my comparison is off-base, since I have never actually tasted kibble, so there is a chance these chips are worse.)  Seriously, take a hard pass on this one.

Fried Green Tomato was the one I was most curious about.  They were disappointing...not bad, just sort of "meh"....a hard to describe flavor that didn't really leave much of an impression on me. It smelled vaguely like pickles, with a fried oil taste and somewhat sour, tangy finish  I did add bonus points for being of the Wavy variety, which holds the flavoring better and, in my opinion, provides a more consistent taste experience chip for chip. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mushrooms, Mushrooms EVERYWHERE

Wow...the biggest tell-tale sign that we've had some damp, humid weather: mushrooms cropping up everywhere on my lawn in our backyard mulch.

No, we are NOT eating any of these--I would never take the chance.  I'm just amazed at how many different ones are cropping up at once.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sharknado 5: wait, when did Sharknado 4 happen?

Yes, I tuned in tonight to watch the latest installment of the Sharknado series: Sharknado 5.  I wasn't even aware that a 4th installment had been released--setting the DVR to capture that campy ridiculousness to watch on a rainy day when I have absolutely NOTHING better to do.

My take: it was about as stupid and inane as the others, but exactly what I expected, so I wasn't disappointed.  Trying to spot the celebrity cameos is always the best part (you have to be quick--they tend to get eaten by sharks rather quickly).  My favorite was Fabio as The Pope.  Killing off Dance Moms' Abby Lee Miller just as she uttered her infamous line, "Everyone is replaceable!" was also a nice touch.  

Multi-Level Marketing : Stay Far Away!

If you've ever been invited by a "friend" to host a party at your home and "earn free products" just for having a few people over to view a complimentary demonstration--ditch that so-called friend immediately.  They're not looking to do you any favors--they're trying to leverage their relationship with you to get access to your social network of friends and acquaintances, in order to increase sales for what is likely a multi-level marketing company (MLMs).

There are many such "opportunities" out there, including essential oils, makeup products, and yoga wear.  Quartz.com had an excellent article recently (READ IT HERE) about how MLMs use a pyramid-like structure to sucker in consultants with promises of big earnings, only to drain them financially.

I've encountered several of these over the past 25 years, and I have yet to come across one that wasn't ultimately a money-drain.  The worst part is that the person approaching you seems so genuine (and, in some cases, they are--they just don't realize yet what they've gotten themselves into).  They are taught specific tactics to entice friends into joining the pyramid, such as calling their group of customers a "tribe" or "sisterhood" so that you feel empowered, like you're part of something larger than yourself.

Don't fall for it--it's just another sales strategy aimed at convincing you to hand over your list of friends, co-workers, and family members so that your "friendly neighborhood consultant" can bring them into the pyramid and make more commissions.

No thanks, I'll pass.

Monday, July 31, 2017

So long, Mooch, and thanks for all the fish


Nope...it's not as easy as it looks. #byeMooch

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ouzo. Neat. (a.k.a. Happy 26th Anniversary to my long-suffering husband)

Waiter: Would you like an after dinner drink? 
Me: Hmmm...do you have any other grappas that aren't on the menu?
Waiter: Um, well...what are you looking for?
Me: Like, a grappa, but something the chef smuggled over from the old country. A bottle without a label. A bottle with something growing in it.
Waiter: We have Ouzo...but it's very strong.
Me: Can it take the paint off a car? 
Waiter: ...
Me: Like, if I dip my finger in it, will it dissolve my nail polish?
Waiter: Well, I can't drink it, it's too strong for me
Me: (disapproving side eye) Just bring it.
Waiter: How do you want that? With ice?
Me: ....
Waiter: Um, okay, neat then.
Me: Thank you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

But the Couch is So Darn Comfy...

Eyewitness News at 11pm teaser just now: "How running for just one minute a day could give you stronger bones."

Sorry, Bill Ritter, I don't think I can spare that kind of time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Well Wishes for Senator John McCain

The news of Senator John McCain's cancer diagnosis has led to an avalanche of well wishes from across the globe.  I'm saddened for him and his family, and I'm praying that he will have a good outcome as he deals with this health crisis.

One thing that has bothered me, though, are the well-meaning declarations on Twitter that "Cancer doesn't know what it's up against!" and "Senator McCain has fought far worse than this!"   Yes, he is, without question, an American hero, but I don't find platitudes like this particularly encouraging, or realistic.  For me, it implies that others who were diagnosed with cancer and were unable to survive simply didn't fight hard enough, or weren't strong and brave enough.

We often refer to Cancer as if it is a person, an enemy that can be vanquished in battle for those who sufficient will to survive. Unfortunately, I've known way too many people in my life who have struggled with cancer, fought back as hard as they could, and still ended up dying. They had so much to live for, did everything their doctors asked of them, but in the end, the cancer won out.

This essay on CNN written by Xeni Jardin does a great job summing up what I'm feeling about this.  Definitely worth a read.

Full link: http://www.cnn.cevahom/2017/07/21/opinions/cancer-is-not-a-war-jardin-opinion/index.html

Saturday, July 22, 2017

When a broken iPad grounds your flight home

I've heard of flight delays caused by mechanical issues, bad weather, sick passengers, air traffic issues...but today's issue was a new one for me. My Delta flight from Charleston, SC to LaGuardia in NY was delayed because the pilot's iPad broke. 

That's right. The plane was all boarded, flight attendants ready for taxi and takeoff, when suddenly the pilot announces that we're going to be delayed for about an hour.  The reason: his iPad broke, and as a result, he is unable to fly for the rest of the day, and we have to wait for a replacement pilot (with a functioning iPad) to show up.

I'm assuming this has something to do with pilots logging their Hours of Service via their iPads, but....seriously?  I have an Hours Tracker App on my phone that I use for my freelance work, and all of the info I enter is backed up on the Cloud.  If my iPhone breaks, I simply log in from any other electronic device and be up and running again.

One would think this issue could have been easily resolved by providing the pilot with a replacement iPad, kept on the aircraft for exactly this purpose.  Alas, no.

Friday, July 7, 2017

50

In keeping with our time-honored family tradition of being allowed to have ANYTHING you want for breakfast on your birthday...this is what I chose upon reaching the half-century mark:




That's right. Because preservatives PRESERVE you!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Food Review: Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreos -- These are worth buying!

Whenever a new "Limited Edition" flavor of Oreo cookie is announced, I am inevitably tagged at least half a dozen times on Facebook, by well-meaning friends who want to make sure I anticipate the arrival of the new flavor, and post a review forthwith.

So yes, I've been aware of that the new "Dunkin Donuts Mocha Oreos" were on their way, but I wasn't exactly counting down the days.

If only I had known how good these are, believe me, I would have been first in line at the store today.

Some of the flavors released from Oreo have really missed the mark, while others have been passable, but the mocha ones--these are the real deal. 

The mocha flavor is perfect--not too sweet, not overpowering, a perfect compliment to the chocolate sandwich cookie.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Get these--you won't be sorry.

Find them on Amazon.com HERE.

Final verdict: A+

Thursday, June 15, 2017

FOOD REVIEW: Jelly Donut Oreos

Tasting and reviewing the new Limited Edition Oreo flavors has become something of a hobby for me--there are worse things, you guys--and this is one newcomer that I was really looking forward to sampling: Jelly Donut Oreos. 


Short take:  I give these an A-! 

Jelly Donut Oreos somehow, some way, manage to capture the genuine flavor profile of a jelly donut.  As soon as you open the package, it smells like you just got back from the bakery.  My only quibble (and the reason for the A- rather than an ) is that there should be a bit more jelly flavored creme in the center--it was inconsistent from cookie to cookie. 

Of course, you're also not going to get the same mouth-feel from a cookie as you would from biting into the soft, doughy goodness of an actual jelly donut, but this is a lot less messy, and could theoretically satisfy your craving for a jelly donut, without a trip to the bakery.