Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Review: New York Pizza Dept.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

New York Pizza Dept. says:  What makes us different is that we start by making our own dough from scratch each and every day. We use New York filtered water and yes…it really makes a difference. Our pizza sauce is homemade using only the finest California vine ripened tomatoes and our secret blend of spices. We then use whole milk mozzarella that is made for us exclusively. It’s guaranteed to be tasty and stringy. We don’t skimp – we use a whole pound of it on an 18” cheese pie. We use fresh produce and the best meats available. We even hand chop our basil that is grown locally.

Ten years ago this family owned and operated business moved from Long Island, New York to Arizona. And yesterday we discovered that they deliver!

New York Pizza Dept. has been a favorite for awhile, but the option of delivery was never available. New York Pizza Dept. pizza is not your average Papa John’s quality delivery pizza. This pizza is hardcore goodness and I was curious as to what the results would be. We are riggght on the border of their delivery zone, but that’s OKAY.

An amazing 45 minutes later and over 5 miles of driving time, (faster than Papa John’s delivery, 1.5 miles away) the 18 inch Pepperoni Beauty arrived…as lovely and hot as it would be delivered to your table.

I have never eaten real New York Style pizza, but my guess is this is pretty close to the real deal. There are 8 huge slices on a very thin crust. Everything above the crust is a wonderful mesh of  fresh ingredients and greasiness. The crust itself unleashes its qualities of being made from scratch.

One slice fills up the majority of a dinner plate. It also fills the majority of my stomach.

“To protect and serve great pizza.” Oohh..

Well, however they protected the great pizza before we got it is beyond me, but they surely served a delicious pie with a very polite deliveryman. (free fridge magnet…woo hoo!)

I would say in the end, being out $18 for an 18 inch wonder-of-a-pizza, is pretty much breaking even.

[Rating:4.5/5]

Review: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Maui Onion Potato Chips

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Ahh, kettle chips. Back in the day, I used to eat them thoughtlessly while enduring a meaningful sensation of roof-of-the-mouth-tear. The super crunchiness of kettle chips had a feeling and taste that were incomparable to anything else, even RRRuffles’ enervated ridges. The snack food possibilities in the early to late ’80s were somewhat unexciting, especially if you compare them with today, but I’m telling you…kettle chips were IT.

Well that was then, this is now.

Now I don’t like the roof-of-the-mouth-tear so much as I did when I was a kid. At least I don’t understand a feasible meaning for it. Cap’n Crunch cereals are almost off my eating list too. (if only it wasn’t so tasty right out of the box!) As far as food goes, if it rips the roof of my mouth, it better be darn good! The best even!

And that is where Lay’s Kettle Cooked Maui Onion Potato Chips come into play. Frito Lay you are truly a great maker of chips that I adore, but I know you are weak. Weak enough to not be a mouth-tearing disaster. I trust your product name as well as trusting a certain gentleness about your products. No offense, but you will never be Poore Brothers, and that is why I bought you.

Good call on my part.

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Maui Onion Potato Chips were not crunchatized as the Cap’n might do, but they were much crunchier than a regular potato chip. The Maui Onion flavor was gentle and satisfying with almost no fingertip residue. I would actually go so far as to say if Funyuns were a potato chip rather than a corn meal-based “onion flavored ring”, this would be the chip. So if you like Funyuns’ flavor, but prefer the texture of a kettle cooked chip, Lay’s Kettle Cooked Maui Onion Potato Chips may be the answer for you.

Frito Lay, you can’t fool me, but I will keep your Funyuns secret to myself.

[rating:3.5/5]

Cinco de Mayo

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is not, as many people think, Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? How do you celebrate?

I thought to myself, “What better way to celebrate than get Mexican food take-out.”

Not just any ole take-out, though.

Burrito Express, a true family run business and as importantly, home of the Best Bean and Cheese Burrito in Chandler for it’s price.

Sorry Elmer’s Tacos. You were a childhood, high school and adulthood favorite who never did me wrong, but you are no longer the best bean and cheese burrito in Chandler. Regardless, Elmer’s…you still rock.

Where was I? Oh yes…

The Best Bean and Cheese Burrito in Chandler…

For $2.75 you surely cannot find a tastier bean and cheese burrito to fill your belly. Each bite contains exactly what it should. Hearty, homemade refried beans and cheese.

FOUR bites wide of bean and cheese burrito!

Enjoying the lovely picture of eaten food?

Oh my goodness, it was good!

I think the very best part of Burrito Express’ bean and cheese burrito is the tortilla. Its not too thick and not too thin, with a right off of the griddle taste. The little blackened parts on the tortilla add a perfect smokey flavor to this soft and chewy wrap.

This is where I get into trouble.

I should have warned you first.

I can usually only make it halfway through the burrito before I start unfolding all the extra tortilla goodness and pulling off the excess for consumption. The excess is always there for a reason, but I can’t seem to stop grabbing for just one more super chewy piece before I wrap the burrito back up. Then a few bites later, the ultimate blowout comes, but it was my fault.

For under $3, Burrito Express’ Bean and Cheese Burrito is the BEST in Chandler. It is fully satisfying, especially if you are craving Mexican food.

Lastly, what kind of Cinco de Mayo doesn’t include Selena?! Here’s a really fun tune that’s worth a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it for awhile. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm8JdfOcQwc[/youtube]









“Darn Good” Chili Mix

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

I know chili is pretty easy to make already, but when I was walking down the soup aisle I came across a package that read, “Darn Good” Chili. Perfect. It’s worth a try for the name alone. Is it “Darn Good” or not?

Inside the package was an assortment of beans, rice and seasonings.

No MSGs, no fat, and a pretty harmless-looking ingredient list. So, after adding some water and tomato paste, we will find out how “Darn Good” this chili really is.

Pretty darn good in my opinion. Pretty darn filling as well. And cheap! Apparently this package makes 8 one cup servings. We don’t do it like that at my house, though. So we enjoyed going back to the pot for seconds. You can either semi-satisfy 8 people or completely satisfy 4. You’re choice.

Either way, “Darn Good” Chili is a neat variety of beans and rice that will not disappoint your taste buds or hurt your pocket. (but do add extra spice, if you like it hot…this chili is very mild flavored) And although no one flavor in the mix stood out strongly on its own, the medley of flavors create a “Darn Good” combo. And the package only costed $3.99 plus a can of tomato paste.

Sure, it isn’t the best chili you’ve ever eaten, and I would recommend making homeade chili on most days, but for a camping trip, feeding large groups cheaply, convenience or storage purposes “Darn Good” Chili is the perfect candidate.

Overall, you can’t feel very guilty since “Darn Good” Chili is not unhealthy for you or your family, nor is it costly. Extra ingredients are not necessary for a tasty bowlful, but adding meat could stretch the batch even further. I’m definitely going to stock my cupboard with a couple packages of “Darn Good” Chili, for those nights when I just don’t know what’s going to be for dinner.

In conclusion, I’m going to share with you the only real way to eat a bowl of chili. Alert to the weak-stomached do not proceed…anyone else can see the messy truth here.

Big Ol’ Burgers

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Do you ever get a craving for a huge hamburger?!

I had some ground beef that needed to be cooked and I was thinking hamburgers.

Typically, I just spice and season the patties up really well on the outside.

Tonight, I strayed away from the Grill Mates and seasoned salt shakers.

Tonight, I prepared some really large burgers using Lipton’s Onion Recipe Soup and Dip Mix.

Why, you ask?

Well, why not?!

The box wasn’t becoming Onion soup or dip.

It was just staring at me endlessly each time I opened the cupboard.

If you are not familiar with the box, here it is… 

I mixed the Onion Recipe Soup and Dip Mix with the ground beef and cooked the patties on a preheated George Foreman Grill.

The whole process was so quick, it’s not even funny. The tater tots which accompanied the burgers this evening surpassed the burger prep time.

Using jumbo hamburger buns, this is what came of it…

Oh, it doesn’t look that big?! Trust me. This was a massive burger.

There’s even a pretty big tomato slice underneath that meat mass.

Lipton’s Onion Recipe Soup and Dip Mix would be awesome for a meatloaf, but I wasn’t digging it on this Big Ol’ Burger. I thought it took away from the beefy flavor that I’m used to tasting in a hamburger patty. I really wanted to yank it off the bun and add a pile of mashed potatoes.

Regardless, there are several other things I’d like to try out with Lipton’s Onion Recipe Soup and Dip Mix. One is making those yummy looking potatoes pictured on the box.

Woo hoo for packages of two!

Review: Campbell’s Supper Bakes – Garlic Chicken with pasta

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Tonight, I’m going to throw together something simple, although I wish I didn’t have to heat the oven up. The weather is getting hot, but we just got our air conditioner repaired so it will have to work extra tonight on behalf of dinner.

I’m thinking something pre-made, by my good buddies at Campbell’s.

There are several varieties of Campbell’s Supper Bakes to choose from if you’ve seen these in the store.

I chose the Garlic Chicken with pasta variety, due to it’s lack of cheese and simple name. Probably a pleaser for all the tastes sitting at the table.

Campbell’s says: Plump and tender rotini pasta cooks at the same time as your chicken, in the same dish. Campbell’s® creamy baking sauce, with a light parmesan cheese flavor and a savory touch of garlic, gives you a deliciously moist, perfectly seasoned supper. A zesty sprinkle-on crumb topping completes the dish.

Susanna says: Supper Bakes was really simple to put together. It called for 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I had a package of boneless skinless chicken tenders. No problem. It was very easy to work around this small discrepancy. Nothing that three chicken tenders side by side couldn’t fake. They, in my mind, became one chicken breast and I repeated the 3 for 1 deal for all of the 4 chicken breasts, Perfect! I topped them with the can of creamy baking sauce, covered tightly with foil and baked. After a certain amount of time specified on box, the foil was removed and the chicken breasts were topped with a crumb topping which added a cool crunch.

The flavor overall was tasty. The garlic was not to the capacity to give you monster breath all night, but it was apparent enough to add a nice flavor. The rotini pasta held up very well, which was a big plus for the extended cooking time which I put it through. (never got mushy)

Campbell’s Supper Bakes Garlic Chicken with pasta was low fat with a little vitamin A, calcium and iron even.

If there is a sale, Supper Bakes are a great way to get dinner on the table pretty quickly without a lot of messing around in the kitchen. I’ll try another variety another time, but the Garlic Chicken with pasta definitely passed the challenge…

Check it out for yourself.

April 25: National Zucchini Bread Day

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Did you know there is a National Day for Zucchini Bread? It’s true…and that day is today.

Which got me thinking about my son’s recent requests for some breads or muffins using orange juice. He told me you can substitute orange juice for the water or milk in any bread/muffin recipe. I asked how he found this out and he said he learned it from the reading portion of his AIMS test, our state’s standardized test. Ha! I know he seeks and retains a lot of info, but how funny is that? Pretty cool too, seeing as how reading comprehension was my least favorite thing to test on when I was in school, even though I loved to read.

How can you deny your loved ones asking for a slightly healthier alternative?! You can’t. And I won’t. Let’s have a go at this Zucchini Bread made with orange juice and applesauce…

  • Awesome Zucchini Bread
    • 2 C sugar
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 C shredded zucchini
    • 1/2 C applesauce
    • 1/3 C orange juice
    • 3 C flour
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1-3/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 C chopped walnuts
    • Preheat oven to 350°
    • In large bowl mix sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat until well blended.
    • Add zucchini, applesauce and orange juice; stir well.
    • In another bowl, combine flour with dry ingredients; baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
    • Add flour mixture to zucchini mixture; stir well.
    • Add nuts; stir gently to combine.
    • Pour into 2 greased and floured 9″ loaf pans.
    • Bake for 60-70 minutes; until toothpick comes out clean.
    • Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans onto wire rack and cool completely.
    • Makes 2 loaves

I made a slight change to the recipe and used 1 cup wheat flour and 2 cups white flour.

To ensure even cooking, half way through the cooking time I moved the left pan to the right side of the oven and vice versa. This is always a good idea when baking 2 pans of anything.

The bread browned very early on in the cooking process, but it was a dark colored batter to begin with. I admit I was a little worried. Then when the zucchini bread was done baking my husband said, “That’s the best smelling bread I’ve ever smelled…it smells like *sniff sniff* pizza and pancakes at the same time.” Maybe the oddest kitchen compliment I’ve ever received.

Either way, my conclusion is that this recipe makes a really awesome, moist zucchini bread that will not disappoint.

Review: Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

You may have seen my review of the Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Fudge Brownies. If you have, you’ll know I had another box of brownies to bake…a box of Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies. Even after the last experience, I still had high hopes for this flavor.

Out of the two boxes, this one looked more appealing to begin with. The box says premium golden brownie batter, so I’m not sure how it qualifies as an actual “brownie”, but either way the box picture had a look of soft, chewy gooodness to it. I love a good pan of soft baked chocolate cookies (when someone else makes it), so Duncan Hines no-prep method hit the spot. Brownie or no brownie, here we go…

That is how it looks right out of the box. And here’s how it looks after baking…

Looks a little fluffier than I’d expect a brownie to be, but I’m liking it so far. Cutting into it, I can feel that it is indeed not very dense. When fully cooked, the middle of the brownies stayed moist and chewy which was a pleasant surprise. Sure all the chocolate chips were not apparent from the top side as the box picture suggests, but the inside was full of chocolate chip gooey goodness. That gooey goodness in the center created a bit of a problem when removing from the pan. It seemed to separate, not letting me keep the top and bottom connected. You can sort of see that separation in the center from this picture…

Besides having trouble staying in one piece, Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies are tasty and sweet. If you need a sweet fix and like soft chocolate chip cookies, these will not disappoint. I liked them a lot.

Personally, I don’t like desserts with ice cream on top, but that didn’t stop me from noticing a neat looking recipe on the back of the box for a Chocolate Chip Sundae. Sounds fancy, eh? But its really simple to re-create. Top the brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then top that with hot fudge topping. (err cold Hershey’s Syrup)

My re-creation of the Duncan Hines Chocolate Chip Sundae…

Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Chocolate Chip Brownies were almost disturbingly sweeter and more chocolatey than their evil counterpart, but they were pretty dang good for something out of a box.

Review: Marie Callender’s Old Fashioned Beef & Vegetables Crock-Pot Meal

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

I haven’t had any luck with frozen Crock-Pot meals in the past. This particular bag looked worth a shot though, having the Marie Callender’s name and consisting of ingredients that everyone in my family will eat.

As a bonus, this meal is fairly nutritious with only 150 calories per serving. There are 4.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, and 50% of your Vitamin A for the day! It’s 550 mg of sodium (23% of daily value) was not so bad either.

The contents of the bag were 1 sauce pouch, 1 potato pouch, and the meat & vegetables.

My initial reaction when I opened the sauce pouch and smelled it was, “Gerber Mixed Vegetables…?” That threw me off a little, but I continued with the package directions placing the potato pouch in the refrigerator, stirring the sauce pouch into hot water and the beef & vegetables into the sauce. Then I turned on the Crock-Pot to low for 8-10 hours. Easy!

In the last 35 minutes of cooking time, I turned the heat to high and stirred in the potato pouch. The potatoes were cut into well-sized chunks. Some larger than others, but all very fresh looking.

The Vegetables – Most of the carrots were in large chunks and some were cut thin. I’m guessing the non uniformity was to make the Beef and Vegetables seem homemade. (but I cut my carrots uniformly for the Crock-Pot, Marie!!) The peas were visible although I couldn’t really taste them. The potatoes were just right.

The Beef – The beef chunks were fairly large. They had a good taste and were equivalent to any beef stew meat I’ve had in a Crock-Pot…sort of fatty, sort of tender, and sort of chewy. My only complaint was the amount of beef chunks in the bag. (I forgot to count) To evenly disperse the chunks to a family of 8 like the package suggests would be difficult.

The Outcome:

The Sauce - The sauce was thick and gravy-like and ended up having a tasty beefy flavor like it should, so I dropped my Gerber thoughts and enjoyed dinner. (with a fork)

It was a hit! A mild hit, but a hit nonetheless. Everyone dished out seconds and no one left the table hungry.

Review: Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Brownies

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

While walking down the frozen food section of the grocery store these brownies caught my eye and made me a sucker to practically every marketing strategy a store has…

  • Individual Display Case - The Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Brownies were in their own display case located right at the end of the aisle.
  • 2 for 1 price – They were marked as on sale as 2/$7. Wow, two of them for one low price! Not very cost efficient at $3.50 a box.
  • Convenience – The box boasts convenience factors that enticed me as a tired shopper. I mean come on, premium brownie batter that is ready to bake with no prep and no clean-up. I couldn’t resist atleast trying it.

The Duncan Hines Oven Ready Homestyle Brownies were definitely easy although, I flipped the box to find I needed a cookie sheet to place the convenient tray on. Fine. All else that was required was to cook it at 350° for 25-27 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Wait?! What if I had no toothpicks? I do, but seriously. I wonder why a convenient product like this doesn’t come with a toothpick. Even Handi-Snacks knows what’s up.

Here’s a few pictures of the goods

Right out of the box and a little frosty…

Looks pretty brownie-like and it’s passed the toothpick test.

The cut finale…

Is it good? It wasn’t horrible. If you went in seeking chocolatey fudgy goodness, you’d be let down. It was more cakey than gooey and there was an odd taste of berries amongst the chocolate flavor. I would not buy this again.



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