Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

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For the first August in a while, I did not see premature signs of fall. Most people would be relieved to not have a season aggressively pushed on them in the midst of another, but I’ve been a little sad. I enjoy seeing orange all through the isles of places like Target and trying new products so that I know by October and November what will be a staple for me that season and what I will use to entertain. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw these pumpkin cheesecake cookies sneak their way into my local grocery store. These types of cookies are not necessarily my thing, but I was pretty starved for pumpkin and did an impromptu buy.

When I opened the package, I was overwhelmed with autumnal glee. The cookies smelled like a freshly baked pumpkin pie, and I had to enjoy a few wiffs before I actually indulged into a cookie. The positives of the cookies, other than that heavenly scent, are that they are delectably soft and the cheesecake chunks are rich and sweet. The negative is the pumpkin flavoring is weak, if there at all. The flavoring is more pumpkin spice, which as you probably know is not offensive to me, but a little disappointing. I will probably not be purchasing these again, but if you are not into strong pumpkin flavoring but love that wonderful nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove combo and a sweet cookie, you will definitely love these.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies: 3/5

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Holiday Season 2012 List!

On a way more positive note, where are the foods I cannot wait to try next holiday season!

I really wanted to try this this year because I saw them on sale for an extremely low price, but the season was almost over and I could not figure out on what I could eat this. Now I’ve realized toast, bagels, waffles, and all other bread products are all fair game.

 

Again, I saw and wanted these, but I could not justify purchasing them for no purpose. I do not eat marshmallows whole, and I do not like pumpkin and milk chocolate. However, I like pumpkin and white chocolate, so I could top my white hot chocolate with these adorable marshmallows. Or I could make pumpkin spice rice crispies.

 

I haven’t craved yogurt in a long time, including last holiday season. But I’m going to suck it up anyway. I do like frozen yogurt, so I’ll probably try freezing it as well.

 

I also usually don’t like pudding, but I regret not getting this every time I pass the pudding section of the grocery store.

 

I couldn’t find these! I was so excited to try them, and they were nowhere to be found ūüė¶

 

Since the Einstein’s ones were a little disappointing, I’m willing to give these a shot in hopes for a more pumpkin-y bagel.

 

Another regret. The only thing is, I may have to make a choice between this and the pumpkin spice spread, because I know I’ll be getting the Philadelphia cream cheese again and don’t want too many spreads when I will not have enough products. It all depends on which two I find first.

 

This wine claims to not be strong in the pumpkin flavoring, which, if what I tried this year is “strong pumpkin flavoring” in a wine, I’m more than willing to give this one a chance.

 

I couldn’t find these, but I’ll be so happy when I do because I love TLC bars as a snack or breakfast.

 

Woodchuck is a good time, so I figure I’ll step up my cider game.

 

The pumpkin was so good that I would hope these are also wonderful. I don’t know which one I’ll end up buying this year and which one next, unless I share with my future roommates and a whole gallon is practical. I’m getting slow churned though for caloric purposes.

 

The calories in this terrify me, but it’s the baby of my two favorite holiday foods. I’ll just be in the gym a lot the week I consume this.

 

This could be really good or really bad, but I love the gingerbread crust idea as well as this brand of lemon bars. So it’s worth a shot. I’ll probably make this for myself and my future roommates so that I’m not stuck with an entire batch.

 

I don’t like beer, but my Great Imperial Pumpkin Beer experience turned out well. And I always neglect maple in the holidays even though it’s just as seasonal and I do enjoy it (as your local coffee place if they have maple spice syrup. tastes great in chai). So maybe I’ll like maple beer as much as pumpkin beer.

 

This ale is supposed to be made with quite a bit of pumpkin, and the Great Imperial Pumpkin Ale made me adventurous. Hopefully I like it.

 

I think this is a decent list. I probably will not get the opportunity to try all of this, but as many as I can consume and find I will!

The Worst of 2011

I figure I should let everyone know what I think they should stay away from during the holiday season, most of which I did not review. I’ll try nearly any seasonal food once, but some of these make me wish I saved my money.

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The Dunkin Donuts pumpkin doughnut was just not good. I was so excited because back at home, we have a Dunkin right by my house, making these easily accessible. That was thoroughly disappointing. The look itself took my mom and I aback. The ad made it look like a natural color, but the real thing is bright orange (as featured in the two pictures). BRIGHT. Orange. And then I took a bite and was overwhelmed with spice and really bad imitation pumpkin. But mostly spice. I wouldn’t buy these for someone I’m not fond of. Stay away and get your pumpkin doughnut fix at a Wegman’s if you live near one. You won’t regret it.

 

 

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My old roommate and I freaked out in the middle of our dining facility because they were selling these cute little pumpkin pies before the pumpkin season was really starting. We were pumped to add this to our reunion date which consisted of watching “Thumbelina” and drinking pomegranate apple cider. When we cut this in half and put it on our plates, we were a little skeptical about how smooth the consistency was, but we ate it gingerly anyway. It was very gross. The crust was fine, as all Tastykake crust is, but again I was tortured with really bad, imitation pumpkin! And we never did get over the smooth consistency. At least “Thumbelina” and pomegranate apple cider are good.

 

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As I already mentioned, I was thoroughly disappointed in Panera’s latte. It wasn’t appalling, like most of the food on this list, but I did not taste pumpkin! Just pumpkin pie spice. Either whatever syrup they use is bad or they do not pump enough of it. I’ll still review this again next year though because I get Panera rewards (I love that place) and will probably get a free one.

 

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I would eat one of everything on this list to avoid this experience. I just tried this earlier this week so that I could, again share it with my old roommate – you all are probably thinking we should stop eating pumpkin stuff together by now haha. The smell was pretty funky, undescribably so, and then we tasted it … First, you were hit with a powerful sweetness. And I’m not talking wine sweetness. I’m talking children’s lunch box beverage sweet. Then this horrible aftertaste of something sour. I don’t understand how a wine could be so bad, and now I have almost a whole bottle in my fridge. The only redeeming quality is the kindness of the gentleman you e-mail for online orders. His e-mails are formal but you can tell he wrote them. But this is by far the worst thing I’ve tasted ever, not just seasonally.

 

So try any of these if you like, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Betty Crocker Snickerdoodle and Gingerbread Cookie Mix

 

Usually my sister and I make completely homemade cookies, but this year has been a particularly busy holiday season; thus, semi-homemade cookies seemed like the way to go. Having had the molasses cookies in this brand (and because they were on sale in the grocery store), we chose these to bake this year. We also got pumpkin spice, which will be reviewed in the future.

Both cookies baked well into cute circles as long as the batter remained cool so that it could be rolled into balls.

The snickerdoodle was perfect. I have no complaints about these. The cookies tasted exactly like the kind you would get at The Great Cookie in the mall. My only baking suggestion would be to sprinkle the provided cinnamon sugar on the top of the cookies as opposed to baking it inside – we tried both ways – because the cookies keep their cream color that way.

Betty Crocker Snickerdoodle Cookie Mix: 5/5

The Gingerbread cookies tasted fairly good. They contained a strong gingerbread flavor, which was satisfactory, but the sugary taste was less apparent. My suggestion would be to frost these cookies to add some sweetness, and then they would be perfect.

Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix: 4/5

So Delicious Coconut Nog

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Having tried one other vegan nog that did not necessarily tickle my fancy, I cannot say I was particularly thrilled to try this one. But, being the nog lover I am and desperate to find a healthier alternative to egg nog that wasn’t a light/low fat version, I went to my local Wegman’s and purchased it. And I must say, this was one of the best holiday food purchases I have made to date.

When I opened it up, I smelled a nice waft of nutmeg, which was promising. When I poured it in my clear glass, I was in awe of the thick consistency even apparent in the pouring process, a consistency I’ve not experienced since I ceased purchasing regular egg nog. I held the glass to my lips, and again was taken aback; it tasted like nog too! The flavor was not overwhelmingly strong, but distinctly nog-like. The more I consumed, the more I enjoyed the creamy, familiar beverage.

The only thing keeping this from a perfect score is, as a non-vegan rating this to people who, by the content of this blog, I assume are also non vegan, the beverage does not contain the egg flavor, or even an imitation of t. While I am more than okay with that and just enjoy having a nog that’s healthy for which I do not have to compromise deliciousness, I realize others want that egg taste.

So Delicious Coconut Nog: 4.5/5

Eddy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream and Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee

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Just a little back story on the picture. Finals week is approaching, so I’ve had lots of late nighters writing papers (boo). Usually my TV is always on The Food Network or The Cooking Channel, and while watching “Extra Virgin,” I learned what affogato was, a life changing experience, I assure you. And thus, this concoction was born. Pumpkin affogato.

I would be lying of I didn’t admit I searched reviews on different store brand pumpkin ice creams to find one worth purchasing. Near my university is a Kiwi Yogurt and a family owned ice cream shop called Scooped, both of which are serving festive flavors, including pumpkin. While both are absolutely delicious, I cannot afford to spend $4+ whenever I am craving pumpkin ice cream, one of my favorites since my freshman year (my first school’s dining facility actually carried pumpkin and pumpkin pie ice cream, brought by a local creamery, so I was spoiled). But I can spend that much on a gallon. So after some research, I came across Edy’s pumpkin ice cream. And I was not disappointed. The texture was smooth, and the ratio of pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice was 50/50. The only reason it does not get a perfect score is because it does not have anything that makes it particularly special, like gram cracker or pie crust chunks, but it’s exactly what I wanted.

Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream: 4.5/5

Honestly the only reason I got the Dunkin pumpkin spice coffee was because it was on sale for under $2. I aleady had regular coffee and International Delight pumpkin  spice creamer. But I am glad I got it. It was labeled correctly, pumpkin spice, not pumpkin, was flavored well, and smelled heavenly. A satisfactory choice in holiday coffee.

Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee: 4/5

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts

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This is the one food I have searched for since before pumpkin products released. When trying to find out if Campbell’s makes pumpkin soup, amazon.com suggested one of the most glorious pumpkin products I have ever heard of: Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts.

I read every review possible to attempt to figure out where to purchase these (they were $27 on amazon at the time), and all I saw were positive reviews on the deliciousness and how these were everyone’s favorite Pop Tarts and how have these only been made last year … Definitely did not help my patience. Eventually I found a Facebook page for the product and asked there where everyone was finding them, and nearly all said Target, which made sense considering their commitment to pumpkin products (holiday food heaven).

After four Targets throughout the month of October and making second rounds in November, I almost gave up until two weeks ago on an impromptu trip I found two boxes shoved in the back. I almost squeeled and jumped with joy, but I didn’t think my friend would have appreciated that. As soon as I got home, I put one in the toaster oven (unfilled parts of the icing is brown as I like it) and devoured it as soon as it reached a heat that would not seer my tongue.

The Pop Tart was all I imagined and more. The taste of pumpkin was pleasantly prevalent for just being a smooth layer in a pastry. And the amount of cinnammon was perfect. And while this has nothing to do with the pastry’s taste, it was just too stinkin cute with its orange, brown, and yellow festive sprinkles. This Pop Tart is to pumpkin pie as a stromboli is to pizza, and just a pleasant experience.

Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts: 5/5

Maine Root Pumpkin Pie Soda

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One of the biggest benefits to college life is being spoiled every time your parents see you. The parental surprise this week was Maine Root Pumpkin Pie Soda she found at Wegman’s … my mommy definitely loves me.

I have to admit it took me half the bottle to develop an opinion, mostly because I had no idea what to expect. Would it literally taste like liquid pumpkin pie? Or does it taste like those Harry Potter World pumpkin drinks? It’s beer-resembling exterior definitely started a lot of conversation with my classmates.

It’s a very sweet soda, the kind of sweet a cream soda is. Nutmeg is its most prevalent flavor, and it smells like a pie. I think I would have named it pumpkin pie spice soda just because I tasted no pumpkin. Nonetheless, once I analyzed the soda, I found myself very much enjoying it and sad it only comes in packs of four. I definitely am buying more.

Maine Root Pumpkin Pie Soda: 3.5/5

Panera Bread Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pumpkin Muffie

Panera Bread is one of my favorite places to eat ever … my mom says because I have expensive tastes in sandwiches. But I just have a big thing for comfort foods, so soups, paninis, and baked goods are right up my ally. In late September, my mother came to visit me (yay groceries), and, as per usual, took me out to Panera Bread for lunch/dinner. You can imagine my excitement when I saw pumpkin already invading the cafe.

The pumpkin spice latte was an unfortunate experience. I do like the Panera lattes, especially the caramel, but this was extremely bitter. I also had a difficult time finding the pumpkin flavor in the drink. Cinnamon was the only ingredient that hinted towards it being a pumpkin spice latte. I love Panera, but this needs serious improvement.

Pumpkin Spice Latte: 1/5

I have seen the calories on the Panera muffins and have not touched one since, so I always get muffies instead and split them with my mom because they are a decent size and a more acceptable amount of calories. The pumpkin muffie just looked extremely promising with its familiar orange coloring and dusting of powdered sugar. I took a bite and it was easily one of the best pumpkin bread-y products I have had.  It was moist, and the pumpkin and pumpkin spice all shine through clearly but with pumpkin being the stronger flavor, as it should be. Other than it being 300 calories for one, this could not have been any better.

Pumpkin Muffie: 5/5

Einstein Bros. Pumpkin Bagel and Pumpkin Smear

Last week when Google-ing various pumpkin foods to try, I came across an image of pumpkin [spice] cream cheese. My mind was blown. Cream cheese is one of my favorite things in food, sweet or savory, and I am a pumpkin crazy; how I had never heard of pumpkin [spice] cream cheese before this point was beyond me. But now that I know it exists, I am determined to purchase all the different brands I find (and review all of them, of course). Which brings me to this review.

One of the types of pumpkin [spice] cream cheese I found online was Einstein Bros. “pumpkin smear,” which I was happy to see because I have an Einstein’s within walking distance. So, naturally, the next morning I got up early to go ¬†get some pumpkin smear

While I was in line, I also saw on the poster advertising pumpkin smear that Einstein’s also had pumpkin bagels. Could this week get any better? I was practically drooling in anticipation while my pumpkin bagel was in the toaster.

The bagel, unfortunately, was not up to par. It was by no means a bad bagel, but I tasted no pumpkin! The pumpkin spice made its presence known in the way cinnamon does in a cinnamon raisin bagel, and I enjoyed that flavoring, but when you advertise your bagel as a “pumpkin bagel,” I need to taste some pumpkin. Very disappointed from a place known primarily for it’s bagels.

Einstein Bros Pumpkin Bagel: 2/5

Now on to the superior pumpkin smear. This was just plain heavenly. The spice tones were subtle, but that is how I prefer pumpkin spice in pumpkin foods generally. It is a very sweet cream cheese, which suited me and my sweet tooth well, and there was no denying the presence of pumpkin. The texture is the only aspect preventing this delicious cream cheese from receiving the highest rating it could achieve; it was too soft, almost like butter, not like the more firm and dense cream cheese to which I am accustomed. But that will not keep me from giving it a positive score, nor will it prevent me from ordering this again. This time, though, with my usual honey wheat bagel.

Einstein Bros Pumpkin Smear 4.5/5