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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Eating Krispy Kreme Is “Easy As Pie”

This month, Krispy Kreme introduced the Easy As Pie doughnuts available for a limited time. Here’s the flavor lineup: Dutch Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, and Chocolate Kreme Pie. Out of pure curiosity, I bought all three donuts to taste test. Let’s see how these pie donuts stack up:

3. Chocolate Kreme Pie

As the website describes, “This doughnut is filled with silky chocolate Kreme, dipped in chocolate icing, topped with a dollop of Kreme and finished with mini-chocolate chips. ” Imagine you bought a birthday cake from the store; chocolate to be exact. Now, imagine a doughnut filled with the icing on that store-bought birthday cake.

I could not get over the insane amount of sugar in this doughnut; this coming from a sugar junkie. I understand the play on a Chocolate Cream Pie but this one missed the mark. The cream in the center tasted more like icing and I would have preferred more of a custard-like center. Birthday cake icing in a doughnut just does not float my boat.

Krispy Kreme Chocolate Kreme Pie doughnut

2. Cherry Pie

I love cherries but never really eat cherry pie, so I was pretty excited to try this doughnut. Krispy Kreme states, “This doughnut is topped with pie crust crumbles and a cherry filling; hand-decorated with an icing lattice, making it look and taste as sweet as cherry pie.” Initially, I thought that the doughnut would be stuffed with cherry filling, but I was wrong. The Cherry Pie doughnut is pretty much a regular doughnut with a bunch of toppings.

Also, my Cherry Pie doughnut looked nothing like the photo. I swear the employee just gave me the messed up one because she knew I wouldn’t say anything. Regardless, I enjoyed this doughnut mainly because of the cherry filling on top. The cherry pie visual looks much better in the advertisements than on the actual doughnut though. A doughnut with cherry filling and the crumble/icing mixture on top would have worked much better, but it was still much better than the Chocolate Kreme doughnut.

Krispy Kreme Cherry Pie doughnut

1. Dutch Apple Pie

The Dutch Apple Pie doughnut wins first place by a mile. As illustrated by Krispy Kreme, ” This doughnut is bursting with apple pie filling, dipped in caramel icing, topped in streusel and hand‑decorated with an icing lattice.” Unlike the Cherry Pie doughnut, the Dutch Apple Pie looked and smelled as I expected.

I wish there was more apple pie filling in the center because it was the best part. The soft, spiced apple filling truly reminds me of a warm apple pie during the holidays. In addition, the streusel on top adds the perfect sugary crunch to the mix. Finally, the caramel drizzle is quite literally the icing on top. Krispy Kreme’s Dutch Apple Pie doughnut is a great addition to the holiday menu and the only one in the pie collection that I would venture to eat again.

Krispy Kreme Dutch Apple Pie doughnut

In my opinion, the Dutch Apple Pie doughnut is the only one out of the bunch worth buying. I may have liked the Chocolate Kreme when I was a kid, but now it’s far too sweet for me to enjoy. Cherry Pie did not “wow” me by any means, but don’t just take my word for it. Hurry in and try all three doughnuts yourself at any Krispy Kreme location for a limited time.

Trying Out the New Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits

The all-new Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits combine parts of three fan-favorite Pillsbury products; biscuits, muffins, and cinnamon rolls. These sweet biscuits make for a quick, 15-minute breakfast treat or dessert. Pillsbury recently launched two varieties of the sweet biscuits: Blueberry and Chocolate Chip.

Each container of Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits contains eight biscuits and a small container of icing, similar to Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls. What I enjoy most about Pillsbury products is that literally anyone can make them. No additional ingredients are required; you simply place the biscuits on a sheet pan and pop them in the oven.

In addition, Pillsbury offers an abundance of recipes to transform these products even further. For example, you can create monkey bread, pull-apart bread, and even biscuit waffles with these Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits. The same applies for any other Pillsbury products, but don’t just take my word for it, go check out the website!

Pillsbury Blueberry Sweet Biscuits

I decided to buy the blueberry-flavored sweet biscuits and baked them as the package instructed. In just under 15 minutes, I opened the oven to perfectly browned biscuits. Next, I drizzled the glaze over the biscuits, but not nearly as well as depicted on the packaging.

To be completely honest, these Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits were not my all-time favorite dessert. While I enjoy biscuits and dessert foods separately, I cannot see myself consistently choosing biscuits as a dessert. The biscuits did not taste bad by any means. In fact, I enjoyed the fluffy blueberry inside accompanied with the taste of sweet icing. However, I prefer a muffin of cinnamon roll over a biscuit if I am searching for a dessert.

I do plan on trying the Chocolate Chip Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits in the future, but this time I want to attempt one of the recipes on Pillsbury’s website. Aside from my personal preferences, I think these sweet biscuits are pretty tasty and they smell great while baking. Check out the Pillsbury Sweet Biscuits on your next grocery run!

REVIEW: Chipotle’s New Carne Asada

Oh Chipotle. Home of burrito bowls, mountains of guacamole, and now carne asada; well at least for a limited time. This quick service Mexican restaurant giant operates nearly 2500 locations worldwide and consumes 57% of the market share of “limited service Mexican restaurants” in the United States (Statista).

As reported by the Nation’s Restaurant News, Chipotle’s carne asada is, “Seasoned with spices including cumin and coriander and finished with lime and chopped cilantro.” Carne asada is the newest protein to grace the menu since chorizo, which joined the menu for a limited time in September of 2018.

Over the years, I have lost my affinity for Chipotle. In Texas, we have a local chain called Freebirds, which essentially provides the same offerings as Chipotle, but at much higher quality in my opinion. Due to the better offerings and sheer convenience, I tend to visit Freebirds much more frequently than Chipotle. However, the introduction of carne asada at Chipotle could be just the thing I needed to change that.

Chipotle introduces carne asada to the menu

My traditional Chipotle order consists of a burrito bowl with steak, so carne asada was not much of a stretch for me. In fact, I love carne asada and frequently order it at restaurants or buy it pre-marinated at the grocery store. On this particular Chipotle run, I ordered my regular burrito bowl with carne asada and a side of chips before sitting down ready to review it.

Immediately, I could tell that this meat was drenched in salt and lime juice. The lime taste overpowered all other spices on the meat and in the bowl itself. This is more of a personal preference, but I also prefer the meat to be cut in cubes like the traditional steak, not strips. When compared to the regular steak, Chipotle’s carne asada is more tender and does not have the fat and gristle like the other offering.

Overall, I was quite underwhelmed. I really wanted this carne asada to give me reason to return to Chipotle, but it just wasn’t enough. The lime juice on the meat completely masked all other spices and flavors in my burrito bowl. If Chipotle changed the carne asada marinade to reduce the lime and showcase all the other great spices, I would consider giving it another try. Until then, I will stick to another source of protein for my Chipotle burrito bowls.

Are We Crazy for Confetti?

I think it’s time to talk about one thing that is running rampant in our grocery stores; confetti. Have you noticed the rise of confetti products everywhere? I swear it’s all cake, cookies, Pop-Tarts and more with nothing but sprinkles galore.

Look, I enjoy sprinkles just as much as the next gal. A spoonful on my ice cream, cupcakes, or donuts not only adds some extra sugar but also makes the dessert even more fun and appealing. However, this year I have seen an excess of “confetti” products hit the shelves. When did the “confetti” or “birthday cake” product category get so big?

Pillsbury has even broadened the range of confetti products by introducing Funfetti pancake mix. Now, the confetti cakes and cookies I can understand, but pancakes? Even though I don’t like to admit, pancakes are pretty much just a dessert in disguise. When you throw sprinkles into the mix, the breakfast facade is completely lifted.

I’m not completely against confetti, Funfetti, or whatever you want to call it but I have seen so many confetti products that it really makes me wonder if brands feel compelled to add these products to their portfolio. I tend to think of Pillsbury when it comes to confetti because they introduced Funfetti cake in 1989. Although Pillsbury has definitely expanded the Funfetti brand across other products, they are no longer the only player in this space. Recently, brands such as Pop-Tart, Hostess, Hungry Jack, and many more have joined in on the confetti craze.

On Ranker, Funfetti cake ranks 21 on a list of cakes based on deliciousness. Similarly, a survey conducted by 973 The Dawg found that Funfetti came in last on the list of most popular birthday cake flavors. It appears that confetti is not the first choice for many consumers, so how come we are seeing even more products coming out with the same theme?

Let me clear the air; I do not have a personal vendetta against confetti. In fact, I think the confetti and birthday cake products are pretty fun. I believe that confetti appeals more to children rather than adults, but there must be a growing market for these products if so many brands are releasing their own spin on it. I simply want to acknowledge that confetti is taking over right before our eyes.

How do you feel about the rise of confetti foods? Let me know in the comments below!

REVIEW: Ben and Jerry’s Snackable Cookie Dough

I am not afraid to admit that I’ve taken a spoon to a Costco-sized tub of Nestle Toll House Cookie dough on occasion. Now, there is an even easier way to snack on cookie dough without the shame of eating out of the bucket. Ben and Jerry’s recently added snackable cookie dough to their product lineup to entice cookie dough lovers alike.

Ben and Jerry’s debuts Snackable Cookie Dough Chunks on Instagram

Interestingly enough, this snackable cookie dough is located in the freezer section next to all the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, whereas other cookie dough products can be found in the refrigerated section. The packaging instructs to keep the cookie dough chunks frozen, otherwise the dough gets too soft and loses its form.

I often find it difficult to locate new products around me, so I was surprised to find these cookie dough chunks on a recent trip to Target. At about $4.30 per package, you receive 8 ounces of snackable cookie dough to enjoy. Ben and Jerry’s also made sure to give customers options and introduced 3 varieties: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Vegan Chocolate Chip.

At Target, I found both the Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavors, but did not find the vegan version. I decided to purchase the chocolate chip cookie dough and resisted the urge to break into the bag on the commute home. By the time I got home and opened the package, the cookie dough pieces had begun to thaw.

The Ben and Jerry’s Snackable Cookie Dough Chunks are beyond delightful. I expected the cookie dough to be more firm; however, the chunks were fairly soft and chewy. By storing the cookie dough in the freezer, the cookie dough keeps its shape and avoids sticking together. Each chunk has the soft, sugary texture that us cookie dough fanatics crave in addition to tiny chocolate chip pieces in every bite.

I’m not sure about you, but I have tried to create edible cookie dough myself and it’s a pain to manage. The Ben and Jerry’s Snackable Dough removes the hassle of making edible cookie dough and the shame of eating raw cookie dough out of the package. This product can accompany a bowl of ice cream or stand on its own. Regardless, if you enjoy cookie dough I am sure you will love the Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Chunks.

An Honest Review of Chick-Fil-A’s Mac and Cheese

Chick-fil-A, the home of the original chicken sandwich, recently added mac and cheese to its lineup of delicious sides. This marks the first permanent side dish addition to the Chick-fil-A menu since 2016. Now, I enjoy pretty much everything that Chick-fil-A has to offer. My order generally consists of the Hash Brown Scramble Bowl and a Vanilla Cold Brew for breakfast or a nugget meal for lunch. Not to mention, Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries are incredibly hard to beat. With an already great menu I wondered, “How does mac and cheese fit into this equation?”

I’m not sure if it’s a regional thing, but I have seen a resurgence in mac and cheese sides on restaurant menus lately. For example, KFC introduced a new $5 Fill Up Mac and Cheese bowl which combines the restaurant’s famous mac and cheese and chicken in one meal. The Vermont White Cheddar Mac and Cheese at Panera has become a fan favorite over the years; well until its recent Tik Tok controversy. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see Chick-fil-A hopping onto the mac and cheese train, but of course I had to give it a try.

This side comes in three different sizes: small, medium, or large. I ordered a small and enjoyed as a side to the rest of my meal, but I can see the larger portions being used for a family dinner or a party. A small portion of mac and cheese will cost you 260 calories, which is comparable to a small side of fries (280 calories). The mac and cheese can stand alone as a meal if that’s what you prefer, or you can substitute for fries in any meal.

Pictured above: Small side of Chick-fil-A mac and cheese

According to the Chick-fil-A website the macaroni and cheese dish features, “a special blend of cheeses including cheddar, parmesan and Romano.” I enjoy the kind of mac and cheese where you can truly taste the combination of cheese, and that’s exactly what you get in this dish. The Chick-fil-A mac and cheese reminds me of the homemade version that my mom makes on special occasions. Underneath a thick layer of melted cheese lay a mixture of macaroni and a rich, creamy cheese sauce.

Whether you add as a side to a chicken sandwich or enjoy on its own, the Chick-fil-A mac and cheese serves as a wonderful new addition to the menu. I now understand why this dish passed in each of its test markets with flying colors. This dish brings a more home-style element to the already popular menu. I am interested to see how Chick-fil-A will continue to innovate with its products offerings after the roaring success of the mac and cheese.