Blueberry Cobbler Pepperidge Farm Cookies - Walmart: Berlin, NJ

Here’s another item I picked up during my epic Walmart search for the elusive Fruit Punch Oreos. (Which I eventually found.) I had seen photos of this new flavor posted on a few food blogs, but I was unimpressed by the Pumpkin Cheesecake variety, so I didn’t plan on checking out the rest of the dessert line. Although I didn’t intend to buy them, I was getting a bit frustrated after going to so many Walmarts and leaving empty handed that I figured I’d buy something to review to make the trip worth it.

Let’s hope that these Blueberry Cobbler Cookies come through!

Since this flavor was released in the spring, the falling leaves from my last review have been replaced with pink and purple flowers. Other than the obvious flavor and seasonal swaps in design, nothing else has changed, but that’s a good thing. The packaging for Pepperidge Farms has always been consistent and appealing but there is a downside to these bags.

There is literally no protection for these already soft cookies.

As you can see, the first paper cup was full of crumbles. Two of the cookies were in shambles, which doesn’t sound too bad, but there are only eight cookies in this bag. (2 paper cups with 4 cookies each.) So, with 2 of the 8 cookies in pieces, that makes 25% of the cookies in this bag unpresentable. No one’s going to cry over crumbled cookies, but it isn’t ideal. If you’re spending a decent amount of money on just 8 cookies, you want all 8 cookies to be somewhat intact.

Whatever trauma these cookies went through, the second paper cup wasn’t effected at all.

Visually, these cookies are absolutely gorgeous. The cookie is a beautiful golden color, and there are tons of dried blueberries mixed with a bit of sanding sugar. I feel like these cookies look like a delicious blueberry muffin top, but something seems off about the smell.

While the scent is very sweet, it doesn’t make me think of cobbler. I can smell the blueberries and the cookie dough, but there’s this lemony hint that seems a bit out of place. Now, if the bag had said this was a blueberry and lemon pound cake, the smell would be spot on, but I have never heard of a cobbler recipe using lemon juice. Admittedly, the smell is good, but it doesn’t deliver a “cobbler” experience.

Before I even took a bite I had to obviously pick one of the cookies up, which proved to be a bit difficult to do with one hand. (Since I use my other to control the camera.) The cookies were so soft that they stuck together in the fluted paper cup, and when I did successfully separate it, it began to droop in my hands. Pepperidge Farms does NOT kid around. When they say soft, they mean soft. It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the cookie started bending backwards so I had to shift my hand to prevent it from possibly breaking. I’m sure the heat from my photo lights didn’t help, but it’s no wonder the first two cookies fell to pieces.

After my first bite, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this cookie. It was really sweet, and soft, but the flavor definitely wasn’t reminiscent of any blueberry cobbler I’ve ever had.

The flavoring is very similar to the smell. This tastes like a lemon and blueberry pound cake or muffin made into a cookie. Maybe I’m making my blueberry cobbler wrong, but when I make it there is usually cinnamon involved. I always add cinnamon to my streusel topping, so it’s a flavor I always relate to cobbler, but there is no hint of cinnamon anywhere in this cookie. As far as recreating blueberry cobbler goes, this is a fail, but the cookie is enjoyable.

These were a fun little treat, and they definitely made my Walmart Trip feel like less of a bust, but I don’t think I would buy a second bag. Out of the two dessert cookies I have reviewed, the blueberry cobbler is way better than the pumpkin cheesecake, but neither flavor has me craving more. 

© Maria Smith
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 Mini Carrot Cake- Pinterest Recipe Review : The PIN The RECIPE
Happy Easter Everyone! If you’re like me, you need to make two carrot cakes for two separate Easter Dinners. This has been my favorite carrot cake recipe for a few years now, it’s really moist, flavorful, and the batter comes together really quickly. (Especially if you have a standing mixer.)

The recipe required:

  • Carrots (3 cups grated)
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon + Cake Spice (I use Nutmeg instead of the cake spice)
  • 6 Egg Whites
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Apple Sauce
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Cream Cheese

I mostly follow the recipe, except for my substitution of Nutmeg for the Cake Spice, and I always make a few additions. I add a few cried cranberries and golden raisins to my batter, since I prefer dried fruit in my carrot cake, and I split my batter into three pans to form two thin layer cakes.

The finished cake is sweet, moist, well spiced, and best of all…EASY. If you’re looking for a delicious, and visually impressive, dessert for your Easter table, I highly recommend this recipe.

© Maria Smith

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Today’s post will be a really quick review of a Panzarotti from a pizza shop in Merchantville, NJ. (I forgot which one. I’ll drive by it again and add the name later this week.) In case you’ve never heard of this food item, it’s similar to a calzone. What you are looking at is a pocket of fried dough filled with cheese and tomato sauce. Essentially, this is a giant pizza pocket.

The outside is made of fried dough, but it’s not the same as a traditional pizza crust. This dough is lighter, so when it fries we get these crispy bubbles on the exterior, while the insides stay nice and fluffy. Visually, it’s appealing in that fast-food kind of way, but it doesn’t make for very interesting photos.

It smells like most fried foods, a bit oily, but there’s also a hint of the mozzarella cheese inside.

Once you take a bite, this giant pizza pocket gets a bit more interesting. Inside the fried dough shell there is a nice, well seasoned, tomato sauce and the walls are covered in melted cheese.

I really enjoyed the taste of the fillings, but I am not a fan of the fried dough exterior.

While I absolutely love pizza, and I eat it way more than I should, panzarotti aren’t one of my favorite foods. I feel like it is the most greasy way to eat pizza, but I’m also not a fan of fried chicken and other greasy entrees. (Don’t get me wrong, I love fried sides like onion rings and french fries, I just don’t like my entire meal to be too greasy.) For a panzarotti, this one wasn’t too greasy, and the fillings were well seasoned. If you like pizza and fried dough, you’ll absolutely love this! I’ll add the name of the restaurant (I think it was Vincent’s?) once I know for sure.

© Maria Smith

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Pea Crackers (Wasabi Flavor)- Asian Food Market: Cherry Hill, NJ

I know Easter is quickly approaching, and I should be reviewing the Easter themed candies in my stash, but I was craving something spicy, so it’s time to open up this bag of wasabi flavored Pea Crackers!

After reviewing the garlic version, which was really flavorful and intense, I was really looking forward to the wasabi one. I’ve mentioned this on instragram, but my go-to snack for the past few months has been wasabi flavored seaweed snacks, which are delicious, but they aren’t terribly intense. I’m not sure if my wasabi tolerance is building up, or if I’m getting desensitized to spicy foods, but I’m craving something a bit bolder. (Oh no, the seaweed was a gateway food!) Either way, I’m excited to potentially add a stronger wasabi snack to my junk food rotation.

I already discussed the packaging when I reviewed the original (garlic) flavored version, so there’s not much to talk about. The color scheme and information obviously reflect the wasabi flavoring, but the design has stayed the same.

Since there’s nothing else to talk about, let’s open these bad boys up and see if they are as intense as I had hoped.

Unlike the garlic version, which had a pretty intense aroma, this snack had a more subtle scent. (Then again, garlic is very aromatic, so that makes sense.) The initial aroma is very similar to the fried umaibo sticks I have reviewed in the past, but after a few seconds you can detect some spicy horseradish-like notes. I feel like wasabi is more of a taste than an aroma, so hopefully the scent doesn’t reflect the intensity of the flavoring.

Once opened, I noticed that the twists are coated in bits of green seasoning, but they aren’t the light green color I usually relate to wasabi. To me, these look more like itty bitty flecks of seaweed. (Which I am totally okay with.)

I popped one of the twists into my mouth, and I am very happy to admit that I had to stop myself from instantly eating the whole bag. These are delicious! They aren’t as intensely flavored as I had originally hoped, but they are significantly stronger than my go-to seaweed snacks, and the crispy texture is really addicting.

Unlike the garlic version, which seemed like it was flavored throughout the entire snack, the wasabi flavoring seems to be limited to a fine powdery coating. I wouldn’t say the wasabi flavoring is as intense as a dollop of the real deal, and it doesn’t cause any burning in my sinuses, but it does leave a nice spicy feeling on the sides of my tongue. After the flavoring dissolves the snack has a crispy texture and fried flavoring which is pretty nice, but the wasabi is the star of the show.

I love these! I bought these when they were on sale at the Asian Food Market, so they were really affordable, but I hope that doesn’t mean that I’ll never be able to find them again. (That’d be heart breaking.) If you like wasabi, or horseradish, this is a must-try snacking item.

© Maria Smith

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*GASP* More Walmart items? Back when I was searching for these Oreos, I was spending a lot of time in Walmart, so I took a lot of photos. Here’s the next round of new items that I spotted on the shelves and submitted to The Impulsive Buy.

Read my comments on each item over on my official blog (which is more photo-caption friendly).

Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf - Pinterest Recipe Review : The PIN The RECIPE

Sorry I don’t have any glamorous photos of this one, although I’ve made this recipe made twice, both times I was over my boyfriend’s place. That means no light set up and no real camera. (I really ought to build a second set up and leave it over his place. Maybe I’ll do that later this month and post a how to video. Is anyone interested in my lighting set up?)

Like I said earlier, this is a recipe I have made twice now, and it’s absolutely delicious.

The recipe required:

  • Ground Chicken
  • Diced Onion
  • Diced Celery
  • Buffalo/Hot Sauce
  • Bread Crumbs
  • An Egg
  • Milk (we were out so I did not add any milk this time)
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Parsley 
  • Dill Weed (I didn’t have this in my pantry)
  • Gorgonzola Cheese (We left this out.)

The first time I made this recipe I did add the required amount milk, and although I didn’t omit it purposefully, I found that the lack of milk didn’t change the taste or texture at all. (I think the milk is meant to enhance the creaminess of the cheese, but since I don’t add cheese to my loaf this was unnecessary.)

As for the rest of the ingredients, they were tweaked to suit our tastes.

This dish is meant to recreate the taste of hot wings, and my boyfriend and I prefer our wings dip-free, so we omitted the crumbled cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I like Gorgonzola, it’s my go-to cheese for salads, and I could see it working well in this dish, but it’s all about your personal preferences.

Since I used freshly ground chicken, the only prep work I had to do was chopping the veggies. Mixing gets a bit messy, but everything comes together in less than 15 minutes, so this is a pretty quick recipe to toss together. I think it’s best to prepare the meatloaf ahead of time and have in the fridge, that way you can just toss it in the oven when you get home from work and the flavors have time to blend together.

The finished meatloaf is really delicious, but the overall flavoring really depends on the sauce you use. Make sure you use a wing/hot sauce that you know you will like, or else this recipe can be a potential flop.

Another thing I would have to recommend with this recipe is to remove the meatloaf from the pan after it is cooked. I found that there was a lot of excess liquid and fat inside the pan, and I didn’t want my meat marinading in that. (Although I’m not sure if this is an overall problem with ground chicken, or if it’s because I use the BJ’s and Sam’s club ground chicken.)

This recipe is a keeper, and it’s a dish that my boyfriend and I greatly enjoy. If you love wings, this is a great way to have all of the flavor, and none of the bones. (We ate ours with homemade garlic mashed potatoes and steamed veggies.)

© Maria Smith

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Blood Orange Green Yogurt - Aldi 
While I was picking up my weekly staples at Aldi I noticed that there’s a new flavor of Greek Yogurt! I picked up one to review, so that’ll be posted later this month. (I hope it’s good.) This is a special buy item, so who knows how easy it’ll be to find, or if it’ll stick around, so get it while you can~!

Blood Orange Green Yogurt Aldi

While I was picking up my weekly staples at Aldi I noticed that there’s a new flavor of Greek Yogurt! I picked up one to review, so that’ll be posted later this month. (I hope it’s good.)

This is a special buy item, so who knows how easy it’ll be to find, or if it’ll stick around, so get it while you can~!

Orange Starburst Water Ice - Rita’s 

More Starburst flavored Rita’s!

I’ve reviewed the Strawberry version in the past, which was pretty yummy, and it sold so well that two other flavors were released. This year you can pick up a cherry or orange Starbust-flavored ice, but I doubt lemon will be making an appearance. From what I understand, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has the monopoly on Rita’s lemon flavored ice. If Starburst wants to keep releasing water ice flavors, they are most likely going to try some of their Tropical themed one.

Let’s see if this Orange Starburst ice is any different from a typical orange one.

The packaging is standard for Rita’s, so there’s nothing to discuss design-wise. I’ll just get right to the ice itself.

One of my boss’ mother’s treated me to this kid-sized ice on Friday before we closed (THANK YOU), so I had to photograph this at work. Since I didn’t have my camera or light set up, I had to use my phone’s camera and some printer paper for the backdrop (which didn’t turn out half bad). Although the photos aren’t too shabby, the coloring is definitely off. The ice has a much paler color in real life. If you’ve ever had apricot flavored apple sauce (which is a thing) it looks very similar to that.

Most frozen desserts don’t really have a smell, but this had a faint aroma that reminded me of Orange Julius.

I took a bite, the the flavoring was sweet and orange-y, but I wouldn’t say that this flavor tasted much like it’s candy namesake. Unlike the Strawberry version, which was very accurate, this one tastes more like a baby Aspirin to me.

I finished my entire cup, and found the ice to be pretty pleasant, but this has the same medicinal aftertaste as Airborne and other orange flavored vitamins. I wouldn’t recommend this flavor, but I still think the strawberry version is worth trying. (Did they bring it back this year? I haven’t seen it.)

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Asian Pot Stickers Cafe Steamers - Walmart: Berlin, NJ

I don’t know why, but I’ve been feeling really run down this week.

I haven’t felt like making anything elaborate for dinner, so it’s time for another Asian inspired meal from cafe Steamers. These instant meals satisfy my tummy and my laziness, what’s not to like? This is going to be a really short review since I covered the packaging in my last post.

The preparations for this meal were the same as the last one, so after 4 minutes in the microwave I had a bowl filled with rice, veggies, and four little potstickers.

I am usually not too picky about the aesthetics of my microwavable meals, but this doesn’t really look like the package. Sure, all the ingredients are there, but the pot stickers seem a lot tinier in person.

When it’s fresh out of the microwave, the sauce has a tangy aroma that’s very similar to sweet chili sauce. (Which I love.)

I started with one of the potstickers because I was curious as to what the filling may be. The packaging doesn’t list a particular stuffing, it just says that these are vegetarian, so I was guessing that it might be filled with various vegetables. Veggie dumplings are my favorite, so I had high hopes for this microwave meal.

After one bite of the potsticker, I was a bit confused and disappointed. I could taste some veggies, but the filling had a mushy, re-fried bean-like, consistency. The filling also had a savory flavoring that reminded me of sesame oil and soy sauce. The flavoring wasn’t bad at all, it just wasn’t what I expected.

As for the rest of the meal, it was pleasant and filling, but the frozen potstickers made by Ling Ling are far superior.

Out of the two Asian inspired Cafe Steamers I reviewed this week, I liked this one a lot more than the General Tso’s. This meal was more flavorful, it left me feeling fuller longer, and all of the flavors well together. For a microwavable meal, this is pretty good.

© Maria Smith
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Fruit Punch Oreos - Walmart: Somerdale, NJ

I posted the ad featuring this new flavor eleven days ago, and I was really excited to pick up a package that Sunday, but I couldn’t find them anywhere! I feel like the ad was put out a week or two early by mistake or something, because it seems like no one (other than Junk Food Guy) was able to find these on the shelves.

When I called and visited local Walmarts they had no idea what I was talking about, and without getting specific and whiny (I think I did that enough in my Youtube Video) it was not a pleasant experience. I mean, this is in no way the end of the world, but as a food blogger you get this desire to break new foodie news first. You want to be the first one to post about the new items, that’s just the nature of this blogging “business.” (I say “business”, because I doubt all of us are quitting our day jobs for food blogging. At least I’m not.)

Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to revisit the first Walmart I checked, and there they were! They must have been put on the shelves that day because the shelf was fully stocked when I arrived that evening. It was really satisfying to see these Oreos in person because I was starting to feel like I had made the whole thing up. (Walmart doesn’t even list these things on their website!)

Welp, here they are! They’re totally real and not imagined or anything. 

The packaging is the same standard yellow that’s used for all Golden Oreos. As you can see, it has that peel up top that I am not a fan of, but it does have some pretty nice illustrations. The graphic designer in me appreciates the rendering of the punch pitcher, it looks really nice in person, but I still feel like these limited edition packages aren’t trying hard enough. Since I am a crazyperson food blogger, I was able to spot these right away, but I feel like the general consumer might miss these limited edition flavors. In my area, the Walmarts and grocery stores stack these cookie packages on the shelves so that only their sides are visible, and while the Fruit Punch and pink filling are both visible on the sides of the package, I think they are still pretty easy to miss in a sea of other Golden Oreo flavors.

I normally don’t talk about nutritional facts and values, but 140 calories for just two cookies? Is that normal? I was curious about how these cookies would compare to a normal golden Oreo.

The normal serving size of Golden Oreos is 3 cookies and the calorie count is only 160. (About 53 Calories Each)

These Fruit Punch cookies end up being 140 calories for only 2 cookies. (70 calories Each)

I guess I should pay more attention to the nutritional information, the difference isn’t very extreme.

When I opened the package the scent was really bold and fruity. As you could see in my video I was really surprised/semi-horrified/impressed by the aroma of these cookies. These truly smell like an artificial fruit punch, very similar to Hawaiian Punch or any other red-colored fruit punch you can buy at the grocery store. The scent is really sweet and sugary, similar to powdered drink mix or Pixie Stix, and it made me more excited to eat the actual cookie.

After I got high on finished sniffing my Oreos it was time to give them a try. 

In true Oreo fashion I tried the creme filling on it’s own, and it’s intensely sweet. This is definitely in the same territory as red Starbursts and Pixie Stix. Actually, upon further reflection, this tastes JUST like the Fruit Punch Starburts that come in the Red and Tropical mixes. This is sweeter than grocery store fruit punch, which is saying something, but you can definitely tell what flavor this cookie is going for.

The creme filling is bold, extremely sweet, and very artificial, but the flavoring is recognizable. In a blind folded taste test I think you could actually label this filling as fruit punch, but I have to try this cookie as an actual cookie. (I’m not 3 years old anymore, so I can’t just eat the creme and leave empty cookie husks behind.)

When eaten the way Oreo intended, the vanilla cookie really mellows out the fruity flavoring. The fruit punch flavor that was so bold and Starburst-like becomes subdued and cherry-like. The cookie leaves a weird artificial pineapple-aftertaste in your mouth, similar to bottled fruit punch, but the cookie make the flavoring a lot less intense. 

Overall, these taste like you ate a vanilla cookie and a Starburst together at the same time. (Or a cookie and a Pixie Stick.) Either way, this is a really sweet flavor that will definitely appeal to kids. (I shared some with an 8 year old today and she loved it, but even she admitted that it was really sweet.) As an adult, I think this is a fun purchase, but this isn’t a flavor that I really care about. If this never returns, I won’t be broken up over it. (I do enjoy making people smell these cookies though. I am fixated on the scent of these cookies!)

TO SUM IT UP: If you happen to see these, they are worth trying for the scent alone, but I don’t think they were worth my epic travels to various Walmarts.

© Maria Smith
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It’s that time of year again!

Local crafters and artists, as well as Japanese confectioneries and snack trucks, will be parked at the Horticultural Center in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park to sell their wares and (hopefully) watch the cherry blossoms bloom.

This yearly festival takes place in Philadelphia, PA, which might not seem like the most authentic local for a Cherry Blossom festival, but The Horticultural Center and The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia have created a lovely atmosphere complete with a traditional tea house, right here in the city.

These organizations have created a wonderful enviroment for everyone to learn about Japanese culture, and there are tons of events leading up to the official festival on Sakura Sunday. (Which is this coming Sunday, April 13th, 2014.) The weeks leading up to the celebration are filled with sushi making classes, film screenings, readings, and art auctions.

Not only do you have the chance to eat yummy food under the blooming trees, but I got to watch Tamagawa University students perform a dance and a Taiko Drum show.

I had planned on going again this year, and wearing a yukata, but I am feeling pretty run down. With Easter right around the corner, I might not make it into Philly this year.

That doesn’t mean the rest of you shouldn’t try to go.

Check out these posts from the last time I attended:

P.S. There’s even a Sakura themed Pet Parade. Ever see a Pomeranian eat a cherry blossom petal?