5 Heart-Shaped Foods to Give Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner which means it’s time to find the perfect gift for that special someone. If food is the way to their heart, check out these five heart-shaped foods to give your valentine:

Papa John’s Pizza

According to Delish, Papa John’s will be selling heart-shaped pizza for a limited time. From February 10 to February 16 you can order a one topping, heart-shaped pizza for any loved one. Use code VALENTINE and score this pizza for only $11.

Advertisements

Costco Heart-Shaped Ravioli

If you want to make a romantic meal for your valentine, Costco has got you covered. Every year around Valentine’s Day Costco sells these cute, heart-shaped ravioli perfect for a cozy date night at home. As the package states these ravioli feature a blend of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and asiago cheeses. Pair the ravioli and a good bottle of wine for a perfect Valentine’s Day dinner.

Einstein’s Heart-Shaped Bagels

Einstein’s is spreading the love with heart-shaped bagels for Valentine’s Day. From February 10 through February 14 you can pick up a baker’s dozen of heart bagels in three flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon Raisin, and Plain. These fresh-baked bagels paired with Einstein’s famous shmear will make the perfect breakfast to share with that special someone.

Advertisements

See’s Candies Peanut Butter Hearts

It wouldn’t be a proper Valentine’s Day without chocolate; that’s where See’s Candies comes in. I personally love the Butter Chews and Scotchmallows, but those don’t come in heart form. This Valentine’s season, See’s introduced the new Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Hearts. For a limited time you can pick up these heart-shaped chocolates and plenty of other sweet treats at See’s.

Advertisements

Krispy Kreme Conversation Heart Doughnuts

If all else fails, you can always count on Krispy Kreme for a festive dozen of doughnuts. Now until February 14, pick up a dozen of these Conversation Heart Doughnuts to show your love. With up to 24 different phrases, this delicious play on conversation heart candies will make a great gift for your foodie.

My Honest Review of the Nespresso Vertuo Line

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a total coffee junkie. Since the age of three I used to steal sips from my grandma’s cup of coffee. After years and years of owning a Keurig I was left wanting more out of single use coffee machine. In fact, I ditched my Keurig and found myself visiting Starbucks at least three times a week. That’s enough to break anyone’s bank.

I’m not trying to drag Keurig, I actually have used multiple machines over the last 5 years. One of the things I love about Keurig is the wide variety of coffee pods available. Think about it; half the coffee section at the grocery store is packed full of k-cups. There are also varieties of tea, hot chocolate, and cider.

Advertisements

Despite the wide assortment of k-cups, Keurig also has its pitfalls. For example, I found that my cup of coffee would often taste like the one brewed before it. This meant my hot chocolate or tea have a hint of coffee, so I had to switch to an electric kettle for these drinks. Plus, if you have ever owned a Keurig you also know that the process of descaling the machine can be quite annoying.

This is all to say that I needed a new coffee experience. After hearing raving reviews from friends and family, I finally committed to buying a Nespresso machine. Aside from the commercials with George Clooney, I knew very little about Nespresso; however, the more research I conducted the more I began to notice that Nespresso sets itself apart from Keurig in a variety of ways. Out of the two different types of Nespresso machines, I chose the Nespresso Vertuo.

Nespresso Vertuo Machine and Aeroccino
Nespresso Vertuo Machine and Aeroccino
Advertisements

What is the Nespresso Vertuo System?

Nespresso offers two different types of machines: Original and Vertuo. The Original machine focuses purely on espresso while the Vertuoline offers a wider range of coffee styles and sizes. The Vertuo machine uses centrifusion technology; a combination of centrifugal action and water infusion to extract a smooth, creamy cup of coffee. On the bottom of the Vertuo capsules, you will find a unique barcode that adjusts the brewing parameters accordingly.

Nespresso Vertuo Coffee Capsules
Nespresso Vertuo Coffee Capsules
Advertisements

Is the Nespresso Worth the Hype?

100% YES. I can proudly say I have been converted. If you are a true coffee connoisseur, then you will love this machine. As the name suggests Nespresso focuses on creating a premium cup of espresso. The centrifusion brewing results in a creamy, indulgent cup of coffee or espresso depending on which capsule you use. My Nespresso machine also came with the Aeroccino milk frother to create hot or cold foam for all kinds of drinks.

Using the right pods and coffee syrup, you can create a delicious latte in a matter of minutes with the Nespresso Vertuo machine. I personally enjoy the Bianco Leggero Nespresso capsules which are crafted for milk. My morning coffee routine consists of adding French Vanilla Torani syrup to my cup, brewing the Nespresso capsule over top, adding hot milk from the Aeroccino frother, and giving my latte a good stir.

Advertisements

Since buying a Nespresso, my Starbucks consumption has decreased significantly. I am now confident in my ability to craft a delicious latte from the comfort of my own home at a fraction of the cost. It’s important to note that you will only find the Nespresso capsules in Nespresso stores or online, but the process is very simple. I enjoy the online experience because I can pick and choose which capsules I love most and Nespresso gives free samples with every order.

Overall, the Nespresso Vertuo machine has changed my morning routine for the better. My morning latte costs about $1.20 per day rather than $4.50 and I don’t have to make any extra stops in my commute. I used to visit Starbucks Reserve just to get an Affogato (basically espresso poured over ice cream) but I can make that and more using the Nespresso Vertuo. Let me know your thoughts on Nespresso in the comments below!

Lucky Charms, Sprite, Krispy Kreme: This Week in Food News

Lucky Charms

Lucky Charms Ice Cream

THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Nestle and General Mills have teamed up to provide consumers with Lucky Charm ice cream. According to Delish, this magically delicious dessert will consist of, “a creamy vanilla dairy base that’s swirled with the signature cereal and scattered with your go-to marshmallow charms.” The exact release date has not been confirmed; however this product is expected to hit shelves within the next few months.

Sprite

Sprite Ginger flavor

As @candyhunting reported, Sprite Ginger is expected to launch in February. The big question is: Will this be like regular Sprite with a dash of ginger or the other way around? I am curious to see how this will taste or if it will be any competition for my go-to ginger ale, Canada Dry. All I can say is I hope this lives up to the success of the Winter Spiced Cranberry Sprite.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Conversation Heart Doughnuts

Krispy Kreme is always finding new ways to draw people into stores. The latest tactic involves the Conversation Heart Doughnuts (pictured above) perfect for any Valentine. These doughnuts are prepared with 24 different phrases and come in a limited edition Valentine’s Day gift box while supplies last. Excuse me while I officially throw my New Year’s resolutions out the window.

The Cheesecake Factory, Coffeemate, Ben & Jerry’s: A Week in Food News

The Cheesecake Factory Expands into Ice Cream

The Cheesecake Factory At Home Ice Cream

The Cheesecake Factory will expand into a new product category with a new line of specialty ice cream pints. I will venture to say this is the most anticipated food release so far this year. These specialty pints will retail for about $5 and come in 7 different flavors: Key Lime, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, Cookies & Cream, Birthday Cake, Original, and Chocolate. You can find these new ice cream pints beginning March 2020.

Coffeemate Debuts 2 New Flavors

Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Funfetti Coffemate Coffee Creamer

Last November, Coffee mate gave its followers a sneak peak of two new creamers that would hit shelves in January 2020. Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Funfetti Coffee mate coffee creamers are here to make mornings a lot sweeter. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch creamer provides consumers with the delicious taste of cinnamon cereal milk they know and love. Or you can opt for birthday cake in a cup with the help of Funfetti creamer. Keep your eyes peeled for these new coffee creamers in a store near you!

Ben & Jerry’s Adds More Snackable Dough Options

Ben & Jerry’s Snackable Dough

Adding to the successful launch of snackable cookie dough products, Ben & Jerry’s plans to roll out two new flavors: Half Baked Chunks and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie. The original flavors debuted in the fall and are absolutely to die for! You would think that the chunks would be hard to eat since they are kept in the freezer; quite the contrary. The cookie dough chunks melt in your mouth and will leave you wanting more.

Pepsi + Coffee? My Initial Thoughts on Pepsi Cafe

Pepsi recently announced that they will be releasing Pepsi Cafe in April 2020 for a limited time. This product combines two things that I feel were meant to stay separate: coffee and cola. It appears that the drink will come in two varieties: original and vanilla. CNBC reports, “The coffee-infused cola beverage has nearly twice as much caffeine as regular Pepsi.”

Advertisements

Now, cola and coffee is not a new concept. Back in 2006, Coca-Cola released it’s own version of a coffee-cola hybrid called Coca-Cola Black. Needless to say, the product was a total flop. Consumers did not like the taste and simply did not see Coca-Cola as a ready-to-drink coffee brand. Coca-Cola Blak was removed from shelves in 2008.

In the years since the Coca-Cola Blak flop, consumers have changed their perception on coffee products. In May, Coca Cola announced it would be bringing back the coffee cola drink. Danielle Wiener-Bronner of CNN Business writes, “Ready-to-drink iced coffees also are growing. And people are embracing mixed beverage categories.” She lists White Claw as a successful example of a product in a “mixed beverage category.”

Advertisements

To be completely honest, I simply cannot get on board with a coffee-cola hybrid. Coca-Cola Blak sounded disgusting to me when I first heard about it and Pepsi Cafe sounds equally as gross. Sure, it’s not entirely fair to judge the product before it even comes out, but I am willing to try the drink once it hits shelves in April. I do not think the world needs a mix of coffee and cola. Who even thought of carbonated coffee in the first place?

Yes, ready-to-drink coffee products have grown significantly over the last few years. Fortune Business Insights estimates that the market with grow to over $36 billion by the end of 2025 in comparison to $19 billion in 2017. This category is dominated by companies like Starbucks and Nestle and I’ve seen an abundance of private label coffees in grocery and convenience stores trying to capture some of the market share. Now, it appears Coca-Cola and Pepsi want to jump on the bandwagon too.

Advertisements

In my opinion, I just do not think cola and coffee belong together. I enjoy coffee for the taste and the caffeine boost. Taste aside, coffee and cola is just confusing. Is it a soda or an energy drink? If Pepsi Cafe contains twice the caffeine as a regular Pepsi, that’s about 75 milligrams of caffeine per can, which is comparable to a tall Caffe Latte at Starbucks. However, I cannot see myself drinking a soda/coffee combo to get my day started. I guess we will have to wait and see how this whole debacle pans out.

What do you think about Pepsi Cafe? Leave a comment below!

My First Thoughts on Starbucks’ Irish Cream Cold Brew

After the wild success of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, Starbucks has added the Irish Cream Cold Brew to the lineup of holiday beverages. Now, I loved the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew because it was such a great alternative to the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte. Most of the holiday drinks at Starbucks will cost you over 400 calories for a grande so I definitely appreciate that Starbucks offers other lower calorie options that I can choose instead.

Advertisements

According to Starbucks, this drink features, “Irish cream syrup, topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam and a strike of cocoa powder.” A grande Irish Cream Cold Brew will cost you 200 calories, which amounts to about half the calories of any other holiday drink on the menu. If you need a jolt of caffeine, one grande Irish Cream Cold Brew will provide more bang for your buck. Compared to a grande Caffe Latte which contains 150 milligrams of caffeine, the Irish Cream Cold Brew contains 185 milligrams.

I never tried the original Cloud Foam Cold Brew when it debuted because I thought that the cold foam took up significant real estate in the cup, meaning you received less coffee at the end of the day. Boy, was I wrong. Since there is more caffeine in the cold brew than a regular latte, this drink makes me extra jittery. The Irish cream syrup adds rich, almost chocolaty notes of flavor to the cold brew and the vanilla cream cold foam tops it all off.

Advertisements

Honestly, I could sit and eat a cup of the cream itself. The vanilla sweet cream cold foam is light, fluffy, and delicious. It compares to fresh whipped cream in my opinion, adding and extra bit of sweetness to the beverage. The sprinkle of cocoa powder on top adds a nice touch to the overall beverage and compliments the rich taste of the Irish cream syrup. Not to mention, the cream mixing with the cold brew is very aesthetically pleasing.

This marks yet another win for Starbucks in my book. The collection of cold foam cold brews are my favorite new menu items by far. I am curious to see how Starbucks will continue to innovate with this concept of cold foam. Possibly a Gingerbread Cream Cold Brew in the future? I don’t know maybe I am just missing the gingerbread latte, but I do see so many opportunities for this amazing drink. Head to your local Starbucks to try the Irish Cream Cold Brew for yourself!

Advertisements

5 Must-Have Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and there’s just enough time left to do some last minute shopping. Do you have your Thanksgiving dinner planned out already? In case you forgot a few items, here are the five must-have sides you need on the table:

5. Dinner Rolls

I generally prefer stuffed crescent rolls with my Thanksgiving dinner; and they are so simple to make! Just cut string cheese sticks in half and roll them up with Pillsbury Crescent rolls. In just 12 minutes you will have the most delightful cheesy rolls that work perfectly with some cranberry sauce on top.

Advertisements

4. Green Bean Casserole

Growing up, green bean casserole was never my personal favorite. My mom would always make it for other members of the family. However, over the last couple years I have actually grown to like it. On Thanksgiving day, green bean casserole is only type of vegetable on my plate so it helps balance out the rest of the meal.

3. Sweet Potato Casserole

Okay I will have to show my bias on this one. While sweet potato casserole is my personal favorite Thanksgiving dish, I do acknowledge that not all people value it as high as I do. Something about the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and the roasted marshmallows on top; it’s the perfect symphony of flavors. Also, this dish is like a dessert before the actual desert. Who doesn’t love that?

Advertisements

2. Stuffing/Dressing

Now I did not know the difference between stuffing and dressing until recently. Apparently, stuffing goes in the turkey and the dressing is baked on its own. My mom would always make both anyway so I never had to pick and choose between the two. Stuffing provides that quintessential Thanksgiving feeling in my opinion. I only eat it once a year on this occasion and enjoy it every time.

1. Mashed Potatoes

I honestly believe you cannot have a Thanksgiving dinner without mashed potatoes and gravy on the table. Mashed potatoes can be paired with nearly everything on the plate: turkey, stuffing, and even corn. Thanksgiving also provides the perfect excuse to have two different potato dishes in the same meal. Mashed potatoes are vital to Thanksgiving, and everyone knows it.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Let me know in the comments below!

Advertisements

REVIEW: Harry London S’mores Snack Mix

I’m a tried and true Costco fanatic. In fact, I worked at Costco for two years during college before starting my career. Throughout my time at Costco, I witnessed the sheer volume of product that traveled in and out of the store. Pallets upon pallets of snacks, food items, produce and more; Costco really has it all. I personally loved all of the seasonal products, especially the sweets that would come in around the holidays.

Advertisements

That brings me to the topic of today’s post; the Harry London S’mores snack mix. This S’mores mix is the latest addition to Costco’s seasonal section. As the package describes this products is comprised of, “Crunchy cereal and fluffy marshmallows coated in milk chocolate.” As a self-proclaimed S’mores lover I knew I could not leave the store without this mix.

Harry London S'mores Snack Mix

Each piece of graham cracker and marshmallow is covered in rich chocolate. I absolutely love marshmallows; and the ones in this mix are perfectly soft underneath the chocolate shell. The graham cracker pieces, or Golden Graham cereal, provide the additional crunch to balance out the soft marshmallows.

Advertisements

The Harry London S’mores Snack Mix is insanely delicious and worth the $10 per bag. However, with the holidays right around the corner, this mix inspired me to create my own version. Make your own S’mores mix for friends and family this holiday season in a few simple steps:

Homemade S’mores Mix

  • 1 box Golden Grahams
  • 1 package Jet Puffed mini marshmallows
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • Milk chocolate melting wafers

Directions:

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper or a nonstick mat. Melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave for one minute. Stir the chocolate and continue microwaving in 30 second intervals until fully melted. Spread some of the melted chocolate on the sheet pan to create a base for the other ingredients. Save the rest of the melted chocolate to drizzle on top.

Pour the Golden Grahams and marshmallows on top of the melted chocolate so they are evenly distributed. Then, add both chocolate chips to the mix. Use the melted chocolate and drizzle over the top of the S’mores mix to hold all of the pieces together. Allow the chocolate to harden, about one hour. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Enjoy Pancakes On the Go with This Product

I found myself wandering down the grocery aisles the other day, as I often do, searching for any new products on the shelves. “Maybe I could review another baked good,” I thought, “Or what about an ice cream review?” As I walked down the aisle filled with breakfast food, one product caught my eye. Meet the Aunt Jemima Pancake On the Go.

Aunt Jemima Pancake On the Go Buttermilk & Maple

This is the first time I have ever seen the Aunt Jemima Pancake On the Go, and from what I can see on the packaging, this looks brand new. The Tom Thumb where I found these pancake cups carries two different flavors: Buttermilk & Maple and Chocolate Chip. I picked up both flavors to try over the next few days.

Side note: I went through a big pancake phase and would often eat the Kodiak Cakes flapjacks. Kodiak Cakes also introduced a version of the flapjacks in a cup long before Aunt Jemima. The Kodiak Cakes Flapjack Unleashed contains 250 calories on average per each individual cup. In addition, this product boasts 10 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and is made from 100% whole wheat.

Kodiak Cakes’ products have become incredibly popular over the last few years in part due to the unique selling proposition as “protein pancakes”. I think Kodiak Cakes continues to change the breakfast game, making consumers feel less guilty about eating pancakes for breakfast. While I do enjoy Kodiak Cakes products, you can definitely tell they are made with whole wheat. I hoped that the Aunt Jemima pancake cups could provide that homestyle buttermilk pancake taste.

The Aunt Jemima Pancake On the Go cups range from 220 to 230 calories per cup depending on the flavor. Preparing the pancake is simple; just add water to the fill line inside the cup, mix well, and pop the cup in the microwave. In just 70 seconds the batter transforms into a warm, fluffy pancake that’s ready to eat.

Aunt Jemima Pancake On the Go

On the first morning, I tried the Buttermilk & Maple pancake. I would describe this as your classic buttermilk pancake with maple chips hiding throughout the cake. You could potentially eat this product without syrup; however, I highly recommend syrup because it soaks in the pancake and creates this delicious, spongy mixture.

The very next morning I tested the Chocolate Chip pancake cup. I generally prefer a blueberry pancake over chocolate chip so I wasn’t sure how much I would like this, but I was pleasantly surprised. Again, I added syrup to the pancake as I ate. Chocolate chips tend to overpower pancakes in my opinion but there was a good ratio of pancake to chocolate chip in this cup. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a pancake for breakfast without all the hassle and mess.

I used to love the Kodiak Cakes flapjacks, but I may be a convert. These Aunt Jemima pancake cups provide the perfect fluffy pancake that everyone loves. In addition, the Aunt Jemima Pancake On the Go contains less calories than Kodiak Cups Flapjack Unleashed and tastes much better. If you are looking for a homestyle buttermilk pancake, then Aunt Jemima is the way to go.

Testing the New Pillsbury Brownie Bark

I feel like Chat, Chew, Review has turned into a Pillsbury blog as of late. From the Place and Bake Brownies to the Sweet Biscuits, I have reviewed several Pillsbury products; and I am adding another to the list. On a recent trip down the baking aisle in Target, I came across the new Pillsbury Brownie Bark. I can always count on Target to carry new products.

Pillsbury’s Brownie Bark comes in two flavors: Chocolate Chip and Toffee. Essentially, this product contains brownie mix and either chocolate or toffee chips. I decided to go out of my comfort zone and check out the Toffee flavor. Brownie mix plus toffee chips sound like a match made in heaven, right?

New Pillsbury Brownie Bark Mix

You do not need a ton of ingredients to make this brownie bark. Inside the box, you will find the brownie mix and a bag of chocolate or toffee chips. The only additional ingredients needed are a half stick of butter and water. All I had to do was melt the butter and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Yes I tried the batter, and to my delight it tasted more like chocolate frosting than brownies.

The box says to lightly grease a pan, but I deviated and used a nonstick Silpat mat, which was not an issue in the end. What the box did not specify was how thin to spread the batter. My batter definitely did not take up the whole sheet pan, but I also did not want to make the bark too thin either. I think more clarification in the instructions could have alleviated this confusion. Regardless, I spread the batter on the pan, sprinkled the toffee chips on top, and popped it in the oven.

Advertisements

Let me tell you, this brownie bark smells AMAZING while it’s baking in the oven. The 13-minute timer could not go fast enough. After the initial 13-18 minutes, you are supposed to score the brownie bark. This step made my brownie bark look like a mess. I think my bark was too thick and did not bake long enough to score without sticking to the knife I used. However, I did what I could and placed the bark back in the oven as directed.

Once the brownie bark finished baking I left it on the counter to cool. I will admit my bark did not come out as I expected. The toffee chips melted and sunk into the brownie mix creating this porous bark sure to scare anyone affected by trypophobia. In addition, my effort at scoring the bark led to messy edges on the individual pieces. Honestly, I would probably skip the scoring step altogether and break the bark into pieces after the fact.

Warning: I am not a burnt edges kind of gal. I prefer a cake or brownie rather than a brittle or bark. The Pillsbury Brownie Bark was not an exception to this rule. Aside from the odd looking pieces of bark, the taste did not blow me away. The more crispy pieces of bark did not have much of a chocolaty taste. I found myself taking all of the softer pieces toward the center rather than the crispy edges. Not to mention, the toffee did a number on my teeth and kept getting stuck.

The Pillsbury Brownie Bark just missed the mark in my opinion. I think my personal preferences for a soft, delectable brownie overshadowed this brownie bark. If you enjoy the burnt brownie edges, this may be your kind of dessert. However, if you prefer more of a fluffy, cake-like dessert, skip the brownie bark and pick up a box of Pillsbury brownie mix instead.

Advertisements