Recipe Review: Secret Ingredient Sugar Cookies

I’m a horribly socially awkward person. I spent the majority of my college years on a circuit that ran from my room to the gym to class before going back to my room. It’s not that I don’t like people—it’s just that being around 90% of them turns me into a babbling idiot. So, when I started my new job, I knew I need something to divert my fellow employees’ attention away from my inability to form a coherent sentence, and that “something” was a delicious, sugary baked good.

I wanted something simple (as, for all I know, everyone at the station could be riddled with allergies to random food products) and I also wanted to try a new recipe from my large stack of “recipes-to-try” (damn you, internet!). So, I picked up the recipe for Secret Ingredient Sugar Cookies that I had seen on Cookie Madness some time back and ran with it.

To begin, let me just announce that the “secret ingredient” isn’t anything weird, like sushi or ketchup or something else that would appear on Iron Chef; instead, it’s vanilla pudding mix, and for some reason I thought this would make my sugar cookies soft and cake-like, even though Anna says in her post on these cookies that they are, in fact, light and crispy. I am bad at reading, and indeed these cookies had the texture of a traditional peanut butter cookie: Crispy on the edges and a little crumbly in the middle. Personally, I prefer a soft, chewy sugar cookie, so I was a little disappointed in this regard, but the cookies were still good—just not my kind of cookie. Also, the taste was not super sweet. Instead, they tasted a bit like a combination of shortbread and a sugar cookie, with a little bit more emphasis on “richness” rather than “sugariness.” Regardless, my co-workers enjoyed them (I was in the kitchenette at 9 a.m., and the weather man was coming back for a second cookie already) and I would probably make them again if I were looking for a slightly more sophisticated sugar cookie.

Secret Ingredient Sugar Cookies – Makes approximately 42 cookies

1 stick (8 oz) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.7 oz. vanilla or lemon pudding mix (I used vanilla, as mentioned previously)
2 cups (8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Sprinkles (optional)

1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, oil and sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy. (Note: I almost had a panic attack when I started making these cookies, as my mix looked like cake batter. This may have been because of the heat [it was very humid that day], but despite the fact that my batter never achieved a “light and fluffy” consistency, they still turned out fine.)

2. Add the egg, pudding mix and vanilla to the butter mixture.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar and baking soda before gradually adding those three ingredients to the creamed mixture. Beat well.

4. Spoon the dough onto ungreased baking sheets so that the cookies are about two inches apart. If you’d like, flatten the cookies with your palm and sprinkle sugar or sprinkles on top of the cookies.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes (Note: Mine only needed seven and a half minutes to bake) or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks.

Nutritional Information (per one cookie):

Calories: 90

Fat: 5.1 g.

Sat. Fat: 3.4 g.

Cholesterol: 10.9 mg.

Fiber: 0.2 g.

Protein: 0.8 g.

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Recipe Review: Parmesan Risotto from The Best Light Recipe

I’m always wary of cheese-based light recipes; I feel like every time I’ve made a low-fat mac and cheese or other such dish, I’ve just ended up a with bland plate filled with some kind of starch and an abundance of tasteless fat-free dairy with a consistency akin to cement. Not enjoyable. However, when a saw a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated‘s Best Light Recipe cookbook, I was more than willing to give it a shot—I trust Cook’s Illustrated (some of my best cake recipes have come from issues of  this magazine), and I want Christopher Kimball to live in my house and be snarky while making me things that are delicious. But, while Cook’s Illustrated has produced some tasty full-fat recipes, could it also produce equally-delicious lighter versions of its usual fare?

Of course it can! This Parmesan risotto was full of rich, cheesy flavor, and the risotto itself was cooked to perfection. Granted, the cooking process is a little more labor-intensive than most “set-it-and-forget-it” recipes (you have to stir the mix continuously for about half an hour, but I personally found this ridiculously soothing), but the product is well worth the effort. I should probably mention, though, that this was my first brush with risotto (let alone Parmesan risotto), but I can’t imagine actually wanting a fattier/creamier version than this; there was plenty of cheese, and there were no portions of the risotto where I said, “Boy, I really wish this had more flavor/Parmesan.”

Personally, I added about three ounces of baked chicken just for the sake of having some added protein, and the result was a filling, delicious meal for under 400 calories. This would make a delightful side dish, too, though, and I loved that it didn’t use an abundance of ingredients that I would use just for this recipe. Though, Arborrio rice is a tad pricey—a container cost me about $7, but it is also a large enough container that will last quite a while.

Parmesan Risotto

Serves Four

Note: I personally like to use a food scale for exact measurements while cooking, so I’ve included the weight in grams of some ingredients in parentheses alongside the normal measurements.

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 shallot, chopped fine

1 and 1/3 cups (245 grams) Arborrio rice

2/3 cup dry white wine

1 and 1/3 ounces (36 grams) grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 tablespoon (9 grams) unsalted butter

1. Warm the chicken broth in a saucepan over low heat.

2. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, and cook for one minute.

3. Add the rice to the skillet and stir the shallots and rice until the mixture is coated in oil and the rice has taken on a pale, golden color (this will take about two minutes).

4. Pour the wine in the skillet and stir the rice mixture constantly until the wine is fully absorbed.

5. Add 1/2 cup of the warm broth to the rice mixture and stir until the broth is completely absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup broth at a time to the rice. Stir continuously and only add additional broth when the 1/2 cup added previously has been entirely absorbed.

6. When your rice is al dente and all the broth has been added (the process will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes), remove the rice mixture from heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste (Note: I do not believe the recipe requires any additional seasoning and thus use neither salt nor pepper.)

Nutritional information:

Calories: 220

Fat: 6 g.

Sat. Fat: 3 g.

Cholesterol: 10 mg.

Carbohydrates: 27 g.

Protein: 7 g.

Fiber: 1 g.

Sodium: 750 mg.

Product Review: Ben & Jerry’s “Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie”

Product Description: Maple Ice Cream with Blonde Brownie Chunks & a Maple Caramel Swirl

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I hope you know how difficult my life became as a result of your lack of voting; it is SO HARD choosing an ice cream for yourself, I don’t think you understand this. Regardless, I made it through the difficult times and ended up with neither one of the options I presented, and I instead picked Ben & Jerry’s Hannah Teter’s Maple Blondie for myself. It is a “Limited Edition” flavor, and I hope that by the time you read this review they are no longer selling it in your area as punishment for your non-voting offenses, you lazy bastard.

I’d like to say that I picked this pint up in an act of good will (part of the sales from this flavor go towards Hannah’s Gold, Teter’s charity, which helps fund projects in Africa), but really I just saw it and decided that it would be the best weapon against combatting my craving for something tooth-rottingly sweet.

When I ripped off the lid, I was greeted immediately by a generous maple caramel swirl and a significant blondie chunk (if you look closely at the picture below, you can see said chunk lurking just below the surface of the ice cream in the bottom right portion of the pint).

Mmmm, so inviting.

I dug in, and was pleasantly surprised to find that this did not taste excessively of syrup: The ice cream is maple flavored, but not in a cloyingly sweet, Mrs. Butterworth’s kind of way. Basically, imagine sweet cream ice cream flavored with the most delicate, high quality maple syrup you’ve ever had—that’s what this ice cream tastes like. And, as for the maple caramel swirl, itself, it too was not excessively sweet; instead, it tasted predominately of the maple I just described but with with subtle caramel undertones. I had been expecting caramel akin to that which you’d find in a cheap candy bar, so the flavor of the swirl was unexpected, but welcome.

My only gripe with this ice cream was with the blondie chunks. They were a bit chewy for my taste, and while they had a nice brown sugar flavor,  it was difficult to detect at times as the blondies, themselves, seemed to have absorbed the maple syrup essence. So, rather than providing a nice flavor contrast, they instead blended into the background, taste-wise.

Also, if you’ve been reading On Second Scoop or any of several other food blogs, lately, you may have noticed that some writers went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory recently and received the following tip: In order to mimic that “just off the line” flavor/texture, you should leave your pint of ice cream out for a few minutes before eating it. Well, seeing as how it takes me twenty minutes to walk from the grocery store to my dorm, I inadvertently did this today, and I must say, it made a HUGE difference. Usually, I get on Ben & Jerry’s back for having ice cream that isn’t as creamy as other premium ice creams, but I think it’s just a matter of temperature. When I indulged in this flavor today, it was the creamiest pint of Ben & Jerry’s I’ve ever had, and I apologize for my previous attacks on the quality of their ice cream’s texture. However, I will say that twenty minutes probably isn’t necessary to achieved the desired effect (my pint was a little too melty)—ten minutes will probably suffice.

Choices, Choices

I love sugar. And, I would love to review more sugary products for you, so on Thursday I will probably venture out to get a pint of ice cream to soothe my final exam/essay oriented anxieties. But, there are two new products that I want to try that I can’t decide between, and I obviously can’t eat two pints of ice cream,* so instead I am going to let you choose. This way, I don’t have to put forth the immense amount of effort that would be required to choose which variety of ice cream to eat, and if I’m disappointed with said variety, then I can just blame my disappointment on the Internet. Yay!

POLL: OMG WHAT SHOULD I EAT?

Haagen-Daaz’s Pralines and Creme (This seems to be a flavor exclusive to the United Kingdom as it’s not featured on the U.S. website, but judging by the pint of said flavor that has mysteriously appeared in my local Walgreen’s freezer, I am guessing they are test driving it over here.)

OR

Ben & Jerry’s Milk and Cookies (Everyone and their brother seems to think this delicious. I WILL BELIEVE IT WHEN I TASTE IT.)

In conclusion: Leave a comment telling me what I should eat/review! I know you want to. Also, you are already on this blog and thus must have nothing better to do, you might as well just vote and humor me while you’re here.

* Well, technically I could; when I gained my “Freshman 15,” it was mostly as a result of my consuming two to three pints of Ben & Jerry’s in a day. Yeah, I know, right? Impressive.

Edit: Apparently, the Pralines and Creme is exclusive to Walgreen’s, and the U.S. version has caramel in it instead of toffee. Personally, I would prefer the toffee, but, whatevas. Also, no one is voting! Come on, help an indecisive lady out.

New Things Thursday: Potato Bread

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During the great Hight Fructose Corn Syrup purge of ’09, I neglected to check the ingredient list of one of my staples; my bread. For some reason, I just worked under the assumption that because my loaf of choice wasn’t particularly sweet, it must not have any wiggidy-whack sweeteners. Anyway, I came to the realization that my logic might be slightly flawed when, while home for break a while back, I found that my mom’s bread had the devil’s sugar in it and subsequently checked the ingredient list of my own loaf of choice. Le gasp! My beloved Pepperidge Farm Light Style Wheat Bread contained the dreaded HFCS! HOW COULD THIS BE?!

I was angered, but neglected to find a HFCS-free replacement for my bread; for one thing, I refused to pay more than 40 calories for a slice of bread, and for another, I just couldn’t find a single brand of bread that didn’t have HFCS in it. WTH?

As you may recall, though, I recently began to turn my back on low-fat, “weight management” foods, and I decided the HFCS-laden monstrosity that was my “Light Style” bread had to go. But, what to replace it with? Most other breads were—as I mentioned previously—afflicted with an ingredient list that contained HFCS, and many regular loaves had no nutritional value whatsoever. One day, however, I paused in front of the potato bread.

The brand carried by my grocery store invited me to “Compare [Their] Nutrition!”, and at the time I was pretty sure this was a challenge, so, affronted by the audacity of this bread, I accepted their duel invitation.

For your convenience, here’s my new bread’s basic nutritional statistics (for, I did take home the potato bread of the whole wheat variety that day) versus those of my old bread.

Per 1 Slice of Whole Wheat Potato Bread:

Calories: 70 calories (+30 calories)

Fat: 1 gram (+ .67 gram) – Note: This bread, like my old bread, has no saturated fat. So, this really doesn’t matter.

Fiber: 4 grams (+2 grams)

Protein: 6 grams (+4 grams)

So, basically the only drawback of this particular bread is the higher calorie count. But, I find it to be much more satisfying (probably because of the higher fiber/protein stats.) than light bread, and also much tastier, as potato bread is dense, hearty and a little bit sweet. Granted, I love carbohydrates in almost all of their forms, so when I say “I LOVE THIS BREAD” it doesn’t really mean much, but let me say this: While I used to make sandwiches with my old bread, I now take the slices of potato bread and eat them alongside what would have been my sandwich filling. Even when I eat my pre-workout snack of half a nutbutter sandwich, I take the time to peel off the non-nutbuttered crusts.

Mmmm, satiating.

Product Review: Haagen-Dazs’ Amaretto Almond Crunch Ice Cream

Product Description: Crispy almond brittle enveloped in smooth amaretto ice cream creates a rich and crunchy sensation.

[Source]

I’m a teetotaler, but for some reason I love alcohol in my desserts; if there’s a cake or an ice cream out there that tastes like it could get me smashed if it were in drink form, then chances are good that I am going to love it. So, when I spotted Haagen-Dazs’ Amaretto Almond Crunch Ice Cream, I bought it faster than you can say “rum cake,” particularly since I have been searching for a suitable replacement for my former alcoholic dessert of choice, “Vermonty Python,” which has been discontinued by some idiot.

When I cracked open my pint of Amaretto Almond Crunch, I was immediately greeted by the pleasant (but not overpoweringly alcoholic), sweet smell of amaretto and a cream-colored ice cream studded with almond brittle.

Mmmm, doesn’t that look delicious? Personally, I thought it looked so tasty I a) couldn’t resist taking a few bites before snapping a picture and b) was so excited to eat more I couldn’t be bothered to take a non-blurry picture (Whatever, you dudes have imaginations; I’m sure you can mentally Photoshop a complete, not-fuzzy pint of ice cream. You should thank my hasty photography for forcing you to stimulate your brain. YOU ARE WELCOME.)

But, anyway, as I’m sure you can gather from point “b,” this stuff was ah-mazing. The ice cream—in typical Haagen-Dazs fashion—was exceptionally creamy, and put the texture of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to shame. And, it tasted like it smelled; not overly alcoholic, but delightfully sweet with just the right touch of amaretto and almond/marzipan flavor. Although, while I personally liked the taste of the almond brittle—it was certainly crispy and had a sugary, caramel flavor, and there was plenty of the stuff scattered throughout the pint—I would have liked a softer mix-in (think almond cookies and marzipan a la Ben & Jerry’s “Mission to Marzipan“), but that’s just my personal preference and shouldn’t reflect poorly on Haagen-Dazs’ unexpectedly high-quality candy. Indeed, even though I say I would have preferred the ice cream include aforementioned mix-ins, I still thought the brittle provided a nice contrast to the sharp amaretto ice cream with its more mellow, brown sugar-flavored crunch.

Be wary of this flavor, though, as it is highly addictive; since my initial purchase of this ice cream a week ago, I’ve since had two more pints of the stuff. Whatever, I didn’t want a waistline, anyway.

Product Review: Ben & Jerry’s Mud Pie Ice Cream

When Ben & Jerry’s discontinued their “Vermonty Python” flavor, I just about flipped my shit.

No more “coffee liqueur ice cream with a chocolate cookie crumb swirl and fudge cows?” Like hell! And so, every day for approximately a year, I sent a letter to the company DEMANDING that they bring back my tasty, tasty treat.

“ARE YOU MAD. VERMONTY PYTHON WAS YOUR BEST FLAVOR.”

“WHY DO YOU KEEP PUTTING OUT NEW FLAVORS WITH CARAMEL. ARE YOU IN CAHOOTS WITH THE CARAMEL COMPANY I AM ON TO YOU.”

“SERIOUSLY YOU HAVE NO OTHER COFFEE FLAVORS BRING BACK VERMONTY PYTHON.”

And, yes, they were in all caps. I really like ice cream. Also, I am 90% sure there is someone at Ben & Jerry’s who is now mentally scarred because of my demands. I am OK with this.

Anyway, when the company recently released “Mud Pie,” I was pretty FRICKIN’ EXCITED, since the product description strongly resembled that of “Vermonty Python”: “Mud Pie” is described as “chocolate and coffee liqueur ice creams swirled together with a chocolate cookie swirl,” which is pretty much just “Vermonty Python” but with chocolate ice cream instead of fudge cows (which I wasn’t too fond of, anyway).

Unfortunately, “Mud Pie” failed to achieve the same delicious heights as its fallen brethren. To begin, the mixed ice cream flavor falls victim to “flavor disproportion” syndrome, which entails having much more of one flavor of ice cream than the other. In the case of “Half Baked,” another Ben & Jerry’s flavor that features two types of ice cream, this means the pint is always predominately chocolate ice cream (rather than an equal mix of chocolate and vanilla), and with “Mud Pie” it’s the same deal: There’s way more chocolate ice cream than the coffee liqueur variety. This wouldn’t be a huge problem except a) I’m not a huge fan of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream (it’s kind of bland for my taste; not especially rich or creamy, but more like chocolate milk that has been made into ice cream) and b) I bought “Mud Pie” because I wanted coffee liquor ice cream—if I wanted chocolate ice cream, I would have bought one of the many other flavors that have chocolate ice cream as its base.

I was even more disappointed, though, when I found that the “coffee liqueur” ice cream didn’t taste anything like the coffee liqueur ice cream that comprised “Vermonty Python.” Instead, it tasted more like the irish cream liqueur ice cream in Ben & Jerry’s “Dublin Mudslide” flavor, and when the coffee liqueur ice cream was eaten with a bit of the chocolate, “Mud Pie” essentially tasted JUST LIKE “Dublin Mudslide,” but without the latter flavor’s coffee fudge swirl.

I have to admit, the crisp, bittersweet chocolate cookie swirl in “Mud Pie” was quite tasty and plentiful, but I didn’t buy “Mud Pie” ice cream for the cookies and ultimately they weren’t enough to convince me that I should buy this flavor again. Indeed, I eventually put half the container in the trash, just because I didn’t feel like the remaining servings were worth the 270 calories a pop.

Ah, “Vermonty Python”—will no flavor be able to fill your delicious shoes?

Product Review: Kashi’s Sweet and Sour Chicken

Product Description: “Sliced chicken with roasted green beans and yellow pepper, red pepper, crimini mushrooms, onions and edamame (soybeans), served over Kashi® 7 Whole Grains Pilaf, and topped with a light, tangy sweet and sour sauce.”

(Source)

As a college student, approximately 90% of what I consume probably contains chemicals.

Diet Coke/Aspartame for an afternoon pick-me-up? Yes, please!

Sucralose-laced yogurt for dinner, because you are too lazy to actually cook something? OK!

Gum with Sorbitol for those days when brushing your teeth is just too hard? Sure!

OK, no, not that last part, really. I always brush my teeth, do I look like a hobo to you? … Don’t answer that.

… OK, do I look like I want to spend money on fillings when I could spend it on candy, instead? THAT’S RIGHT.

But, in all seriousness, most foods peddled by my school’s convenience store aren’t exactly all natural. Hell, even the Tums the store sells have fake sugar in them. So, when the opportunity to purchase a vaguely healthy, chemical-reduced meal arises, I generally snag it due to the suspicion that—even though science hasn’t confirmed it, yet—all those unpronounceable ingredients are going to leave me with no organs, one day. They’ll just have … evaporated.

Anyway, I recently had the opportunity to buy such a meal, that being Kashi’s Sweet and Sour Chicken. I picked this one off the shelf mostly due to the meal’s low sodium content (380 mg., which is pretty damn low for a frozen meal), since my college chemicals usually come with a bounty of salt, too. Plus, the rest of the nutritional statistics on this dish are impressive, too: 320 calories, 3.5 g. of fat, 6 g. of fiber and 18 g. of protein. Not too shabby, no? Also, the vegetables were pretty colors:


(In case you are wondering, no, you will never see a more beautiful picture of a Kashi frozen meal taken with Photobooth, so stop looking.)

As you can see from my lovely picture, not only were the vegetables pretty vibrant, but there was a decent amount of chicken and other goodies in there, too. For reference, though, I took out the green beans and mushrooms (as they are foods of Satan, which wouldn’t really stop me from eating them except they also feel weird in my mouth), but these ingredients were present, and in a decent quantity, too; it took me a good MINUTE AT LEAST to pick them out, goddamn them.

However, how did this dish taste?

The vegetables and the chicken had a texture akin to something that had just been prepared; there was no odd, crumbly feel, and instead the meat was tender and the vegetables had a nice crisp bite to them. The grains were pleasantly chewy, too, and the whole meal seemed very fresh. My only qualms, really, were with the sauce. For, although the chicken/veggies had a nice flavor, themselves, the sauce was a bit lacking and so the meal was ultimately somewhat plain. Not bad at all, really, but the sauce didn’t really taste like a well-developed “Sweet and Sour” sauce so much as it did a less-tangy, thinner version of the stuff they give you at Wendy’s to go with your chicken nuggets.

Regardless, this meal also had great staying power: I ate it for dinner at around 6:30 with some carrot sticks/hummus, and I was still full at 8:30. Nice job, Kashi, and thanks for helping to keep my organs in my body!

Product Review: Kettle Cuisine Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans

I never used to be afraid of trying new things; as a general rule, if I picked up an unusual item from the center aisles of the grocery store, I could be assured that the chemicals within would guarantee the product was some kind of tasty, even if it was not especially healthy.

Since I’ve ventured into the organic realm, however, I have had more frequent run-ins with non-deliciousness; for whatever reason, certain all-natural labels seem to feel that being “organic” compensates for the fact that their product tastes like dirt. Or grass, which is occasionally an ingredient in organic products, so maybe the blame for picking up an abundance of non-tasty items is partly mine for not reading ingredient lists thoroughly enough.

But, I digress. Despite the negative results of my recent forays into uncharted organic territory, my lazy, comfort-food seeking self couldn’t resist picking up a package of Kettle Cuisine’s Angus Beef Steak Chili with Beans, particularly since it had such stellar nutritional statistics: One container of chili (i.e., one 10 oz. package—there’s one serving per container, which is nice. I always hate it when I get a pre-cooked meal home and find that one tray, etc., is actually two or three servings. Who eats half a frozen meal?) has only 250 calories, 9 grams of fat and 540 mg of sodium, which is pretty stellar for a frozen chili. And, the meal packs 8 grams of fiber and 22 grams of protein. WHOAH.

Before delving into the “How delicious was this meal?” portion of this review, I should probably disclose that this was my first brush with chili. So, even though I wasn’t a big fan of how this chili tasted, it may be because I’m just apparently not a fan of chili.

This was a very spicy dish, in that the heat wasn’t too intense (though it was enough to make my nose run a bit), but the predominant taste of the chili was definitely just … spice. If you’ve ever had pre-made taco mix, this chili tasted very similar to the kind of sauce you would find in an Ortega taco kit. However, I loved how this chili was just loaded with meat and beans. 90% of the time, I feel like I crack open a pre-made meal and find that its skimpy on the protein-oriented ingredients. In this chili, though, I got a generous serving of angus beef in every spoonful. And, the chili, itself, was very thick—not runny at all.

I can’t really attest to the chili’s staying power as I paired the dish with crackers (I was eating it for dinner), but I am pretty sure that this would make for a really filling lunch. And, even though I did have this with crackers, it was only one serving of Wheat Thins and the combo kept me full for a good two and a half hours.

I should also mention that this dish, in addition to being organic, is also gluten and dairy free. Personally, I don’t have a gluten or dairy intolerance, but I imagine good frozen, gluten free, dairy free meals aren’t exactly plentiful, so I feel it’s worth mentioning.

I probably wouldn’t pick up the chili again, as the taste just wasn’t up my alley, but the quality of the chili was so good I’m definitely going to pick up another Kettle Cuisine dish sometime soon (maybe the New England Clam Chowder. Mmm … creamy.)

Product Review: Lean Cuisine BBQ recipe Chicken Pizza-Wood Fire Style

Product Description: “Tender white meat chicken, onions,cilantro,reduced fat mozzarella & cheddar cheeses in a tangy BBQ sauce on a crispy thin crust.”

I love bread products. As a child, I required my own loaf of italian bread at family gatherings, and on occasion my anti-anxiety medication of choice is a nice, crusty loaf of carbohydrates. I also love cheese. I also love meals that allow for laziness. This evening, I reached for the abovementioned Lean Cuisine out of a desire for a meal that combined mashed my loves together in a glorious, food menage a trois. Also, I was meeting Mr. Daz later that evening, and I wanted a dinner that was light on calories. So, I popped that bitch in the microwave and watched bread, cheese and BBQ sauce make love to one another.

Unfortunately, the love child they produced comes from a defective dining gene pool. The sauce on the pizza was sweet and hardly classified as a BBQ style sauce; there was no spice or kick, and instead just tasted like ketchup that had several extra packets of sugar in it. The “new” (but apparently not improved) crust was flavorless and chewy. However, I must add that Lean Cuisine states that you should microwave the pizza for an extra 15 seconds if you would like a crisper crust, and I only microwaved the pizza for the 2 minute, 30 second minimum dictated by the basic instructions. I do not think the extra 15 seconds would help the crust taste like anything other than a sponge, though.

The cheese on the pizza was a decent mozzarella that was unfortunately overwhelmed by the excessive quantity of floppy onion bits and ketchup sauce. And, even though the pizza has above-average nutrition stats (340 calories, 7 g. of fat, 430 g. of sodium [which is pretty good for a frozen meal] and 20 g. of protein), I was hungry half an hour later and just ended up chomping on snacks and consuming the calories I had tried to save by having this for dinner. Alas. Fortunately, Lean Cuisine isn’t entirely hopeless in the pizza department; if you’re craving ye olde cheese-on-crust, just go for the company’s French Bread pizza instead of this sub-par offering.

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