Nov 30, 2013

Review: M&M's White Chocolate Peppermint Candies

M&M's White Chocolate Peppermint candies are a seasonal holiday twists on the popular chocolates. They appear to be a Target exclusive (I haven't spotted them anywhere else).

A 9.90-ounce bag was $2.89 at Target.

News: Del Taco - Cyber Monday Extra Gift Card Bonus

Del Taco is offering double their holiday gift card bonus on this upcoming Monday AKA Cyber Monday, December 2, 2013.

While they are offering a coupon for a free combo meal with every $25 in gift cards purchased online on their website throughout the holiday season, on Monday only, purchasers will get two coupons with every $25 in gift cards purchased.

Nov 29, 2013

Frozen Friday: Ben & Jerry's - Truffle Trifecta

Ben & Jerry's Truffle Trifecta is an exclusive flavor you can only get at Walgreen's. It features chocolate ice cream with marshmallow, fudge, and caramel truffles.

I picked up a pint for $4.99.

Reference: 2013 Holiday Gift Card Bonuses

It's the holiday shopping season and that means gift cards for the hard to please or just as an obligatory gift for that co-worker you don't know very well (or at all really).

Brand Eating's annual Holiday Gift Card Bonuses Reference Guide is a running list of bonuses that some of the biggest restaurant chains are offering as an incentive to buy their gift cards for a loved one (or sorta loved one) this holiday season.

News: Caribou Coffee - 2013 Holiday Menu

Caribou Coffee returns the Spicy Mocha and Maple Bacon Gruyere Sandwich as some of the featured items for this year's seasonal holiday menu . Also in season are the Fa La Latte, Ho Ho Mint Mocha, Gingerbread, and Reindeer Blend coffee.

Nov 28, 2013

Review: Popeyes - Cajun Turkey

Popeyes Cajun Turkey in its packaging.

Popeyes' Cajun Turkey is only available around the holiday season. Each Thanksgiving bird is a 9-to-13 pound turkey that's marinated with the Popeyes' signature blend of Louisiana seasonings, slow-roasted, and then flash-fried for a crispy coating.

Nov 27, 2013

Review: Starbucks - Pecan Tart

Starbucks' Pecan Tart is a new seasonal menu item featuring a buttery tart crust filled with pecans, honey, and spices.

It's served warmed and costs $2.95.

News: Dunkin' Donuts - 2013 Holiday Deals

Dunkin' Donuts has a couple of deals going for the holidays.

There's the currently available packaged coffee deal where you can buy three pounds of coffee for $19.99 either online or at participating Dunkin' locations (the deal doesn't start until December 2 for the New York Metropolitan area though). The regular price per 1-lb bag is $8.99, so you're saving about $7. Details on the offer can be found on the Dunkin' website here.

News: Chick-fil-A - Peppermint Shake is Back for Holidays

The Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake is back at Chick-fil-A for this holiday season.

The shake is made with Chick-fil-A's Ice Dream soft serve blended with their milkshake base, peppermint syrup, and dark chocolate peppermint pieces, topped with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

Nov 26, 2013

Review: 7-Eleven - Pepperoni Pizza

7-Eleven's Pepperoni Pizza is available at participating locations (namely those with an oven) and are heated right in the oven in about 90 seconds when you order a one.

I picked a large 14" pie up for $5.55. It's also available by the slice.

News: Auntie Anne's Brings Back Snowball Pretzel Nuggets

Auntie Anne's Snowball Pretzel Nuggets are back for the holidays. First introduced last year, the wintry snacks are basically pretzel nuggets covered in powdered sugar.

News: KFC Festive Feast is Back

KFC is once again trotting out their Festive Feast meal deal for the holiday season. While not as festive as they offer in some other countries, the meal includes eight pieces of chicken, two large sides, four biscuits and a dozen chocolate chip cookies for $19.99.

News: Applebee's - Spirited Cuisine Menu Returns

Applebee's is featuring spirits to get you in the holiday spirit with the return of their Spirited Cuisine menu for a limited time.

The Spirited Cuisine line up features various entrees infused with flavors from wine, bourbon, beer, and tequila. It includes two new entrees: the Marsala Mushroom Sirloin and Chicken & Shrimp Tequila Tango.

Here's the full menu:

Nov 25, 2013

Review: Sonic - Southwest Chipotle Breakfast Burrito

Sonic's new Southwest Chipotle Breakfast Burrito features sausage, fire roasted red and green peppers, smoked chipotle sauce, grilled onions, scrambled eggs, tots, and melted cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla.

I picked one up for $3.39.

Taco Bell Friendsgiving Recipes

Taco Bell Friendsgiving Feast menu.

While I couldn't take you guys to Taco Bell's Friendsgiving meal, I did manage to get the recipes and grocery list for this year's Taco Bell Friendsgiving menu for any of you that want to try your hand at making any of the dishes yourself.

These are basically the edited chefs' notes for the menu. I've included some substitutions for stuff you can't easily get and notes of my own in italics.

Here you go (Enjoy!):

News: Papa John's - New Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza

Papa John's goes with the spicy trend this holiday season with the introduction of the new, limited-time Chipotle Chicken & Bacon Pizza.

The new pizza features a creamy chipotle sauce, sliced Chicken Poppers, smoky bacon, sliced Roma tomatoes, and grated cheddar cheese as well as mozzarella.

News: Jamba Juice - Eggnog Jubilee Smoothie Returns for Holidays

The holidays mark the return of the Eggnog Jubilee smoothie at Jamba Juice. The "better-for-you" version of the classic holiday beverage features a frozen eggnog base, frozen yogurt, and soymilk (not exactly healthy, but compare it to the original's milk/cream, sugar, and whipped eggs).

It's also available in a "Make It Light" version which cuts out a third of the calories, carbs, and sugar over the classic version by using a "lower calorie dairy base" instead of frozen yogurt.

Nov 24, 2013

Review: Canadian Butter Tarts

My brother recently returned from a business trip to Canada and I requested Butter Tarts because I read that they're a Canadian thing and we don't have them here in the US.

So what is a butter tart? It's basically like a pecan tart but without the pecans and with a runnier filling (no cornstarch).

A 265g supermarket pack of six tarts (he ate one before giving them to me) was $3.89 CAN (~$3.68 US).

News: Starbucks Offers "Free Daily Espresso" Tumbler Black Friday Deal

Starbucks will be offering a Black Friday special on their Stainless Steel Espresso Refill Tumbler, a 16-ounce tumbler, which can be used once daily for a free handcrafted espresso drink throughout the month of January.

Of course, the tumbler doesn't come cheap, it's regularly $75 but will be offered for $65 this Friday, November 29, 2013 only. The deal is good at participating Starbucks stores in the US as well as online at while supplies last.

Around the World: KFC Japan Tries Out Japanese-Style Fried Chicken Concept

KFC is trying a Japanese-style fried chicken concept out in Japan. Japanese-style fried chicken or karaage features boneless chicken (usually thigh meat) that is marinated (usually in soy sauce, garlic, and ginger) before being battered and fried.

The first location opened earlier this year in October with the second and third locations set to open this week.

Nov 23, 2013

Review: Trader Joe's - Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal is a seasonal item featuring a granola cereal seasoned with pumpkin powder and pumpkin pie spices.

I bought a 16-ounce box for $2.49.

Review: Trader Joe's - Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake is a seasonal item that appears around this time of year. It combines the pumpkins and pumpkin pie spices into a cheesecake.

A 30-ounce cheesecake was $6.99.

News: Wienerschnitzel - 61 Cent Corn Dogs on Black Friday

Wienerschnitzel will be offering their Corn Dogs for 61 cents all day long to help fuel your holiday sales shopping this upcoming Black Friday, November 29.

If you're wondering "Why 61 cents?" It's because the hot dog chain was founded in 1961.

Recipe: White Castle Wants You to Stuff Your Turkey with Sliders

White Castle wants you to stuff your Thanksgiving turkey with their signature Sliders and have just the recipe to do it.

Instead of breadcrumbs or sausage, 10 White Castle Original Sliders provide buns, ground beef, and grilled onions.

Nov 22, 2013

Frozen Friday: Lyfe Kitchen - Chicken Chili Verde

Lyfe Kitchen's Chicken Chili Verde frozen meal features roasted, seasoned white meat chicken in a spicy green chili sauce with polenta and black beans on the side.

I picked up a 10-ounce box for $2.50 on sale.

Around the World: McDonald's Arabia Offers Grilled Cheese on a Pita

McDonald's Arabia's latest is a grilled cheese breakfast pita sandwich that they're calling the "McArabia Halloumi." Halloumi being the cheese type of  used. It's a brined Middle Eastern cheese with a texture similar to mozzarella.

The grilled cheese is joined by lettuce, tomato, and a black olive paste folded into a pita.

Around the World: Burger King Japan Offers Turkey Legs for Holidays

KFC rules the roost for Christmas in Japan but it looks like Burger King is trying to horn in on the action with the introduction of smoked turkey legs this year.

The "King's Turkey" legs are each about 21 cm each (~8.27 inches) and smoked with a blend of oak and beech chips.

Nov 21, 2013

Review: Starbucks - Eggnog Frappuccino

Starbucks Eggnog Frappuccino is a chilly holiday beverage featuring eggnog and Frappuccino Roast coffee blended with milk and ice, and topped with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg.

A 12-ounce Tall was $3.95.

News: Sonic - Half-Price Cheeseburger on November 26

Sonic is celebrating "Un-Turkey Day" (I'm pretty sure they made that up) on Tuesday, November 26, by offering half-price cheeseburgers.

The deal is good on single-patty Sonic Cheeseburgers only and only at participating locations.

News: Red Robin - New Smoke & Pepper Signature Burger

Red Robin adds the new, limited-time Finest Smoke & Pepper Signature burger as the first of a line of premium burgers featuring handmade half-pound Black Angus beef burgers topped with "superior bacon, cheeses, sauces, and produce."

The burger is inspired by the winning recipe of this year's Best of the Bash Award at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Burger Bash.

News: Bojangles Offers Seasoned Fried Turkey for Thanksgiving

If Bojangles is your fried chicken of choice, you'll be happy to know that they're offering a limited-time Seasoned Fried Turkey available for pre-order through Thanksgiving (November 28, 2013).

The Thanksgiving birds weigh in at 10 to 13 pounds and feature Bojangles' signature blend of seasoning. Each one is meant to feed six to eight people and must be reheated before serving.

Nov 20, 2013

Review: Taco Bell - Chipotle Ranch Chicken Loaded Griller

Taco Bell's Chipotle Ranch Chicken Loaded Griller is one of the new items that they've been testing at a local Taco Bell as a possible replacement for the Spicy Buffalo Chicken Griller. It's basically the same thing (grilled chicken, sour cream in a grilled flour tortilla) but with their chipotle ranch sauce rather than their lava sauce.

To get people to try it, they were offering it for 79 cents a pop (compared to the more typical $1.29).

-Update 1/23/14: these made it through test and are currently available for a limited-time at $1 each.

News: Arby's Hawaiian Roast Beef Sandwiches Return with Limited Availability

Arby's King's Hawaiian Roast Beef and Roast Beef & Swiss Sandwiches are back for a limited time but only at in select participating markets and not nationwide.

The sandwiches were introduced earlier this year in April when I tried the Roast Beef & Swiss and primarily feature a soft, sweet bun made by King's Hawaiian.

News: Panda Express - New Sriracha Shrimp

Panda Express jumps on the sriracha train with the introduction of new Sriracha Shrimp.

The new dish features battered and deep-fried jumbo shrimp, string beans, and sweet red bell peppers sauteed in a wok with a spicy sriracha sauce.

Nov 19, 2013

Review: Sonic - Island Fire Chicken Sandwich

Sonic's Island Fire Chicken Sandwich features a spicy battered and deep-fried chicken filet, sweet habanero sauce, mayo, lettuce, and tomato on a toasted ciabatta bun i.e. it's basically their Spicy Chicken Sandwich with the addition of the habernero sauce.

I bought one for $4.19.

News: Sonic - New Natural-Cut Fries

Sonic has switched to skin-on fries with the launch of their new Natural-Cut Fries.

The new fries are cut from whole, unpeeled russet potatoes and then blanched and dusted with starch before frozen and shipped out to Sonic locations.

News: McDonald's Adding Second Drive-Thru Pick Up Window

Spurred by longer drive-thru wait times, McDonald's plans to add a second pick up window as part of what they're calling the "Fast Forward Drive-Thru."

According to this AP report, the second pick-up window allows customers to drive to a third stop (the first stop being where they order and the second being where they would normally pick up their order) if their order isn't ready.

News: Panera Bread Branches Into Single Serve K-Cup Coffee

Panera Bread is looking to further their retail reach with the latest addition of single-serve coffee cups (AKA K-Cups) that can be brewed at home in Keurig coffee brewers.

The single-serve cups are available in 12-count boxes at select retailers nationwide. They come in four varieties: Dark Roast, Light Roast, Colombia, and Hazelnut Creme.

Nov 18, 2013

Review: Carl's Jr. - Maple Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit

Carl's Jr.'s (also Hardee's but I live on the West Coast) Maple Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit features three maple sausage links, a slice of American cheese, and egg in a fresh-made biscuit.

It's $2.69 for one but I received this one courtesy of Carl's Jr.

News: Chick-fil-A - Chicken Tortilla Soup is Back

Chick-fil-A is offering some heat as the leaves change color and the weather turns cold with the annual return of their Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Taco Bell Test Kitchen Fun - Cantina Sushi

After feasting on a Taco Bell-take on a Thanksgiving meal on a recent visit to their headquarters, I was once again let into their test kitchen to put together my own Taco Bell creation.

After a less-than-inspired go the last time around, I was determined to do better this time and came up with a sushi-roll (or a wrap with two open ends) made with Taco Bell ingredients i.e. 'Cantina Sushi!'

Here's how it came together:

News: Charleys Philly Cheesesteaks Adds Asiago Chicken Caesar Club

Charleys Philly Steaks (and Charley's Grilled Subs) adds the Asiago Chicken Caesar Club to their menu for a limited time through the holiday season.

The sub sandwich features Asiago cheese, hickory-smoked bacon, Caesar dressing, sliced chicken, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato.

Nov 17, 2013

Review: Planters - Pumpkin Spice Almonds

Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds are a limited-edition fall-winter item and features California almonds seasoned with pumpkin and spices.

A 19.75-ounce canister was $6.99.

News: IHOP - 2013 Holiday Menu

IHOP is featuring a trio of seasonal pancakes for this year's holiday menu. The selection includes Pumpkin Pancakes, Eggnog Pancakes, and new Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

Also on the menu this year are a couple of holiday dinners, warm drinks, and a new dessert.

Here's a look at IHOP's 2013 holiday menu:

News - Einstein Bros. - 2013 Holiday Menu

Einstein Bros. and Noah's Bagels are showcasing cinnamon as their holiday flavor for 2013. The season holiday menu features the Cinnamon Cream Cheese, Cinnamon Toast Egg Panini, and Cinnamon Caramel Latte among others.

Here's the full holiday line up:

Nov 16, 2013

Review: Frito Lay's - Milk Chocolate-Dipped Wavy Lay's Potato Chips

Frito Lay's Milk Chocolate-Dipped Wavy Lay's Potato Chips feature original (i.e. plain and salted) wavy potato chips dipped in milk chocolate.

They're exclusive to Target and only around for the holiday season. I paid $3.49 for a 5-ounce bag.

News: McDonald's Testing Build-Your-Own-Burger Concept

The new concept builds on the Quarter Pounder platform.
McDonald's is testing a fast casual-style build-you-own-burger concept at two McDonald's restaurants here in the U.S.

According to the Orange County Register, the test is being conducted in Laguna Niguel in California and Romeoville in Illinois. The burgers feature standard Quarter Pounder beef patties but they're grilled to order and cooked on a char grill rather than a flattop (which makes for some nice grill marks).

Here's a look at the available options and pricing for build-you-own-burger test:

Around the World: McDonald's Italy's Latest Burger Features Walnut Sauce

McDonald's Italy just introduced a new burger featuring local flavors and ingredients called the McItaly Gran Chianina, so named because the hamburger patty is made from 100% Chianina beef, which comes from the same cattle as is used for Florentine steak (Bistecca alla florentina). Among the ingredients are a walnut sauce and a creamy cheese sauce made with pecorino romano.

Nov 15, 2013

Frozen Friday: Ben & Jerry's - Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Pistachio Pistachio features pistachio ice cream with lightly roasted pistachios.

A pint was $3 on sale.

Feature: Taco Bell Friendsgiving Feast

Taco Bell held their first ever Friendsgiving event, where they invited a small group of their social media friends (see awkward family photo) plus me to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with a Taco Bell twist.

So what does a Taco Bell Thanksgiving meal look like? And, more importantly, was there even turkey?

Here's the full menu: