Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Quaker Taste Test

Thank you to Peter and his family for being my taste testers recently:

Quaker Granola Bites: Chocolate Flavor
the granola bites had a crunchy bite,the taste of it was just ok

Quaker Mini Delights: Chocolatey Mint, 90 Calorie Packs

the Quaker chocolate mint cookies had a horrible taste

Quaker Cinnamon Life
the life cinnamon cereal we all liked even my aunt tried them she loved them lol

Quaker Simple Harvest: Honey Roasted Nut Bars
Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bars

the granola bars i don't like peanut butter or any type of nuts in it,but my dad liked them very much

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Kristin's On The River, Jacksonville, Florida

Kristin's On The River
2511 Blanding Blvd [Blanding and Lake Shore Blvd]
Jacksonville, Florida

Open Tuesday through Sunday

I first heard about Kristin's in a local coupon magazine a few months ago. I clipped out the ad and left it in my purse. I forgot about it until last weekend, when the AMW family became bored with the usual restaurant choices. So off to Kristin's we went.

The first thing we noticed was a sort of hole at the front entrance. There was a big chunk of rock missing in that area. We each sidestepped that to get inside.

Upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly hostess. She seated us indoors, which proved problematic due to the thick smell of plastic and fresh paint. Also, the interior boasted garishly bright colors. Both proved too much for the three of us and we moved to the outdoor seating. The outdoor tables were much better, with cooling fans, high tables and a good view of Cedar River. But then we noticed the windows behind our table us had big cracks, which seemed unsafe.

One of us ordered the 2 Jamaican Jerk pork chops from the Hearty Portions selections. Two of us ordered the 2 crab cakes from the Light Portions side. Each entree came with a salad, vegetable of the day and mashed potatoes or rice pilaf.

One person found the pork chops to be thick, juicy and delicious. The other two thought they were too tough and that the seasoning was too sausagey. Also, the chops lacked any spicy heat.

The crab cakes got a thumbs up from all three. Two for each person was more than enough, even for hearty eaters. The crab cakes were neatly cut in high, thick circles and lightly breaded.

One person had the vegetable of the day, which was steamed broccoli. The other two asked the waitress if anything else was available. She offered fried eggplant and we took that option. The thing about eggplant is that most people make it mushy, thick and unpalatable. What was brought to our table was pure heaven, though. Each plate received three large disks, lightly breaded, thinly sliced and golden brown. So good ! The person who ordered broccoli was made fun of ; )

One person had rice pilaf. The other two had the mashed potatoes. Those were really good mashed potatoes, in fact. There were thick and creamy. Yum !

As for dessert ? Well, Kristin's dessert menu was not that large. It listed cheesecake, carrot cake, something with chocolate mousse and maybe 2 other items. When asked about dessert, our waitress replied "We're out of everything today, except butter pecan cheesecake. And brownies. Maybe brownies. I'd have to check and see if we have any left." We respectfully suggest Kristin's amp up their dessert menu. Those really good entrees were just begging to be paired up with super yummy desserts.

Hopefully Kristin's will fix their walkway, windows and dessert menu soon. We would definitely like to eat at this restaurant again.

Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies

I am not usually a fan of oatmeal cookies. To me, they're the sad, boring cousins of chocolate chip cookies. However, Kashi has changed my mind about oatmeal cookies.

Kashi's oatmeal cookies weighed 1 oz each and were pretty hefty. They had just the right amount of dark chocolate chips and grains [wheat, oats,rye, barley and buckwheat]. One cookie was surprisingly enough for me. I did not feel the need to eat a second or third cookie. I would definitely recommend Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Cookies to all of you : )

Quaker Mini Delights: Chocolatey Mint, 90 Calorie Packs

Quaker Mini Delights: Chocolatey Mint bites sounded really tasty to me. How can you screw up chocolate, mint and rice cakes [sorry, "multigrain cakes"] ? You would think I'd learn, but nope...

My initial reaction was to love these little suckers. They were bite sized, coated in chocolate and came in 90 calorie packs. The first bite revealed a good chocolate taste. The second bite produced mint. Not spearmint or wintergreen mint, but toothpaste flavored mint. Ewwww.

Adding to my disappointment was the ingredient list. The chocolate was not in fact chocolate. It was "coating", made from cocoa powder and partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil. There was also that side note of "adds a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat."

Another Quaker thumbs down.

Quaker True Delights: Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia

I came across Quaker True Delights at Super Wal-Mart this weekend. These granola bars come in a black box. There are two other varieties available. I would tell you what they were, but I don't see them on the Quaker website right now. I'll have to look again next time I go shopping.

Anyway, getting back to the point...I really liked these bars. They have a pleasant banana bread flavor. There's a good balance between the amount of dried bananas and the macadamia nuts. This product did not have a grainy taste like the Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate bars. And it mercifully lacked a thick, artificial coconut flavor that many products have.

Thumbs up for Quaker True Delights !

Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bars

Tonight I sampled Quaker's Chewy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Granola Bars, With Protein. Each bar is .98 oz and is made with whole grain oats.

This bar got mixed reviews in the AMW family. I liked the peanut scent, but felt the peanut flavoring was too much. I thought the soy rice crisps made it too grainy tasting. My mother had the opposite opinion. She said the bar had the right amount of peanut taste. We both agreed the bars had the right amount of chocolate chips.

For me, this product fell under "will eat if nothing else is available." Definitely not terrible tasting, but not a prize winner either.

Quaker Simple Harvest: Cinnamon Brown Sugar

As you've read in my previous review, I was on the fence about Quaker's Simple Harvest bars. I decided to give Simple Harvest a second chance. I tried the Cinnamon Brown Sugar, With Apple and Cranberries variety.

Like the Honey Roasted Nut version, this bar too says "All Natural: Multigrain Chewy Granola Bar, *Oat, Wheat, Barley." But then I looked at the ingredient list. There were 10 grams of sugar in a serving. That's three more than the Honey bar. You must be wondering what caused such a difference. Look at what's in the Cinnamon Brown Sugar bars: "Whole grain rolled oats, brown rice sugar, crisp rice, sugar, apples, molasses, honey, sunflower oil, barley, apple juice concentrate, whole grain rolled wheat, soybean oil, cranberries....brown sugar, salt, vanilla, cinnamon."

Ingredients aside, I found myself unimpressed yet again. The bar had a funky, artificial apple smell. There were plenty of dehydrated apple pieces in each bite. The apples were soggy and unpleasant, almost gooey, when mixed with the other ingredients : P The apple flavor overpowered the entire bar.I neither tasted nor smelled any cinnamon or brown sugar. The size and amount of cranberries was paltry. This bar brought to mind a poorly made oatmeal cookie.

Another thumbs down for Quaker Simple Harvest: Cinnamon Brown Sugar bars.

Quaker Granola Bites: Chocolate Flavor

Quaker Granola Bites initially sounded tasty to me. I like granola, chocolate and bite sized snacks. What better pairing for me, right ?

The first problem I had was the appearance of the Granola Bites. If you are eating right now, you might want to skip this next sentence: It looked like someone vomited cereal and rabbit pellets. And threw chocolate chips into the mix. If you can't picture that, consider yourself lucky.

Appearances were not deceiving in this case. The food tasted as awful as it looked. The bites tasted like Cocoa Krispies, only heavier on the faux cocoa taste.

The final killjoy was the ingredient list. Who doesn't love to see "...partially hydrogenated palm kernel and palm oil...high fructose corn syrup" and "adds a dietarily significant amount of trans fat."

I'll pass on the Quaker Granola Bites. I need to find a good granola recipe instead

Quaker Simple Harvest: Honey Roasted Nut Bars

Quaker has a line of Simple Harvest Granola Bars. One of the flavors available is Honey Roasted Nut. The package touts it as "Multigrain Chewy Granola Bar: Oat, Wheat, Barley." Some of the other ingredients are whole grained rolled oats, brown rice syrup, crisp rice, cashews, peanuts, sugar, pecans, molasses and honey. Each bar has 7 grams of sugar.

The first whiff of the Simple Harvest bar revealed a peanut scent. A Pay Day candy bar came to mind. It was not an overbearing, heavy peanut scent. The taste of the peanuts were noticeable first, followed by a touch of honey and the cashews. The pecans were not noticeable. I disliked the lingering peanut taste of the granola bar.

Over all, The Honey Roasted Nut bar tasted better than the Apple Cinnamon version. I felt the Honey Roasted Nut bars were good, but not great. I probably won't buy those again.

Quaker Cinnamon Life

I recently had an opportunity to try Quaker's Cinnamon Life cereal. I had tried the original Life cereal years ago and enjoyed the taste.

The Life cereal squares had a pleasant, wheaty taste. That flavor was ruined by the cinnamon, though. The cinnamon left a heavy, artificial, lingering aftertaste.

Let's talk about the ingredient list. In a 3/4 cup serving, this cereal has 8 grams of sugar. This is a problem, as I'm trying to avoid cereals with more than 1 gram of sugar per 1 cup serving. I was also very surprised to see yellow 6, yellow 5, red 40 and blue 1 listed. I had to look those additives up, as my knowledge of them was limited to "It's not good for you." So you can imagine I was surprised to see the phrases "coal tar", "banned in other countries" and "allergen inducer" repeatedly show up. Yuck. I'm crossing Quaker's Cinnamon Life off my shopping list : P

Romano's Macaroni Grill Restaurant Favorites

I recently purchased a box of Romano's Macaroni Grill Restaurant Favorites. The flavor I picked was Creamy Basil and Parmesan Chicken and Pasta. The kit came with linguine pasta, grated Parmesan and Romano blend, basil and cheese seasoning, creamy sauce and sun dried tomatoes. This product does not contain chicken. You would need to purchase that separately.

I found this meal very easy to make. It was ready in less than the 20 minutes listed on the box. The flavor was outstanding, too. The sauce was perfectly creamy.The Parmesan, basil and sun dried tomatoes played off each other magnificently. Also, I managed to get several serving out of this over 2 days, for 3 adults with big appetites. Big thumbs up for Romano's Macaroni Grill Restaurant Favorites !

**I have never been to Romano's Macaroni Grill. So I cannot tell you how the restaurant meal compares to the boxed product.

Key lime Cookies

I found this recipe in Mr. Food's cookbook Quick and Easy Diabetic Cooking. I added sliced almonds to the batter, left out the cherries and added key lime powder to the powdered sugar. This recipe was a big hit with my family!

Nicole's Cherry Bonbons
Air Date: 6/3/2008
24 servings

3 tablespoons butter, softened
5 tablespoons corn oil stick margarine, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, divided
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fat-free (skim) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
24 maraschino cherries, drained with 2 teaspoons liquid reserved


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, margarine, and 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar until creamy. Stir in the flour, milk, vanilla, and salt; mix well.

2. Shape into 24 balls. Press each ball around a cherry and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until light golden. Cool on a wire rack.

3. Place 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar in a shallow dish and roll the bonbons until lightly coated.

4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and the 2 teaspoons reserved cherry liquid; mix well. Place in a resealable plastic storage bag. Cut a small corner off the bag and drizzle the glaze over the bonbons.

5. Allow the bonbons to cool until the glaze is firm, then serve, or store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Pillsbury Flaky Twists With Chocolate Icing

Last night I wanted to make a pizza. I grabbed a tube of Pillsbury Flaky Twists and rolled it out on a baking tray. I set aside the chocolate frosting that was included, intending to save it for another recipe.

I was a bit baffled when I noticed a cinnamon aroma and a brown substance sprinkled on the dough. There was no mention of cinnamon on the front of the tube. It was hidden on the bottom of the ingredient list on the back. I am puzzled why Pillsbury did that. I've seen commercials and print ads for Flaky Twists With Chocolate Icing several times; not one mentioned cinnamon. That discovery put a crimp in my pizza plans. I decided to make the best of it and just bake Chocolate Twists.

Rant aside, you're probably wondering how it tasted. Let's start with the twists. Those were slightly salty and a little bland. I was surprised the cinnamon scent did not translate to cinnamon flavor. The twists lacked the sweetness one expected.

The chocolate icing was also a disappointment. It tasted like Betty Crocker brownie batter, a far cry from the sweet and delicious icing in other Pillsbury products. The icing and the twists paired together were a sad combination.

Neither the icing or the twists added any sweetness to the finished product. I give this product a big thumbs down. I will not buy it again.