Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before starting the fastest cookie project, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were not really on the radar in the Foodiocentric household. My great grandma used to make oatmeal cookies that my family LOVED, but I think they had raisins and at that point in life, I wasn’t going to go near a cookie with raisins. Some things never change. Tell me, seriously, what is the point of an oatmeal raisin cookie when oatmeal chocolate chip cookies exist? Who are these people who would choose RAISINS over chocolate-and what is wrong with them? The only thing worse than oatmeal raisin cookies is when you think you are picking up an oatmeal chocolate cookie, only to discover that the “chocolate chips” are actually raisins. #firstworldproblems. Read more

Meijer Pizzeria Hand Tossed Frozen Pizza

This week, we deviated from our normal Kroger/Busch’s rotation to get Meijer frozen pizza. The Taste Tester picked this one out as I attempt to avoid entering Meijer at all costs.  I hate Meijer; I have met many people who love Meijer. But, much like Michigan State fans and University of Michigan fans can come together in mutual hatred of Ohio State, Meijer lovers and Meijer haters can come together in agree on one thing: It’s better than Wal-Mart.

Total Score: 36/80; 45%

The Breakdown:

Taste Tester

Crust: 5/10

Sauce: 3/10

Toppings: 5/10

Overall: 5/10

Foodiocentric

Crust: 5/10

Sauce: 4/10

Toppings: 5/10

Overall: 4/10

Overall I thought this pizza tasted pretty cheap. Luckily it was cheap, which boosted the Taste Tester’s overall score. I found it severely lacking in cheese, which also made it taste like it had way too much sauce. The pepperoni was good though. Given the low score and my loathing of Meijer, it’s safe to say we won’t be eating this one again.

The Fastest Cookie Recipes-for the Holidays and Beyond!

The last thing you need this time of the year is another cookie recipe. You can find millions on Pinterest, many by far, far more talented bakers than me. What we all need this time of year is more time; time to fit in all the holiday activities and time to actually enjoy said activities without feeling like we are just checking items off a list. To help you achieve Christmas bliss-I present the fastest cookie recipes around (and maybe some other treats too!)

I have always loved the holidays, but even I can be guilty of letting all the holiday stress get to me. It just seems like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish every single holiday related activity AND still live my life. Unfortunately there is no Christmas break from my 40-hour workweek and Christmas goodies still have calories which means I have to find time to fit in some extra workouts on top of everything else.

So, without wasting any more time, my gift to you the fastest-and easiest-cookie recipes, ranked. From now until just before Christmas, I am re-making all the classic holiday treats, plus a few new ones, to determine just what is the fastest cookie recipes around. BUT, instead of just providing the recipes, I am providing you with some much needed information: how long those recipes ACTUALLY take, from start to finish AND how much effort they really require. And when I say how long they take, I mean how long they really take, IRL.  Like in real life where you don’t have pre-softened butter, someone to measure all your ingredients, or a spare 3 hours to wait for dough to chill. Read more

Freschetta Brick Oven Frozen Pizza Review

Next up, we had one of the Taste Tester’s perennial favorites, Frechetta Brick Oven pizza. Aside from Tombstone, this is the frozen pizza the Taste Tester has had most often.

Total Score: 58.5/80; 73.1%

The Breakdown:

Taste Tester

Crust: 8.5/10

Sauce: 4/10

Toppings: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

Foodiocentric

Crust: 9/10

Sauce: 3/10

Toppings: 9/10

Overall: 8/10

The biggest objection to this pizza was the sauce. It definitely had the classic frozen pizza taste. This was a disappointment because overall this was a very good pizza. Of all the pizzas we have sampled, this one really brought the toppings. Lots of cheese and very good pepperonis. If the sauce was better this may have been the perfect frozen pizza. It will definitely be part of our regular rotation.

 

 

 

 

Kroger Rising Crust Frozen Pizza Review

For our next taste test, we sampled Kroger’s rising curst frozen pizza. As with the others, it was prepared in my convection oven. The Taste Tester and I have given totally unbiased reviews, we spent our very own money on these pizzas and sourced them all ourselves.

Total Score: 36/80; 45%

The Breakdown:

Taste Tester

Crust: 6/10

Sauce: 6/10

Toppings: 4/10

Overall: 5/10

Foodiocentric

Crust: 3/10

Sauce: 5/10

Toppings: 3/10

Overall: 4/10

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this had way too much crust for me. Both the Taste Tester and I found it lacking on toppings, specifically cheese. Not too objectionable, but no worth repeating.

DiGiorno Stuffed Crust Frozen Pizza Review

The Taste Tester’s co-worker informed us that DiGornio stuffed crust pizza is the best of all the frozen pizzas. It was pretty pricey, so we had high expectations. I think this one would have really benefited from a trip in the regular oven as opposed to the convection oven. I will be looking forward to trying this one again. Also, remember that I am quite biased as a thin crust lover 4life!

Total Score: 52.5/80; 65.6%

The Breakdown:

Price: $7.99, on sale

Taste Tester

Crust: 10/10

Sauce: 6.5/10

Toppings: 6/10

Overall: 8/10

Foodiocentric

Crust: 5/10

Sauce: 6/10

Toppings: 6/10

Overall: 5/10

Both the Taste Tester and I were satisfied with this pizza, although I found it ridiculously overpriced. The Taste Tester loved the crust, but noted that without cheese it would have been wayyyy too much. I still found it to be a little crust heavy. I also found the crust to be bland and a bit soggy. Even though the Taste Tester really liked this one, at $7.99 it won’t be making too many more appearances in our freezer.

Kroger Simple Truth Organic Frozen Pizza Review

Next up in our very scientific frozen pizza challenge, the Taste Tester and I sampled a pizza from Kroger’s own brand, Simple Truth Organic.

Price: $4.99, one of the pricier pizzas in the test, especially considering it was rather small

Total Score: 12/80; 15%

The Breakdown:

Taste Tester

Crust: 4/10

Sauce: 3/10

Toppings: 1/10

Overall: 0

Foodiocentric

Crust: 0/10

Sauce: 4/10

Toppings: 0/10

Overall: 0/10

Wow was this awful. Remember how I told you at the beginning of this challenge that the Taste Tester likes ALL. THE. PIZZA. Well, I stand corrected.

This is the first time, in 28 years on earth, the Taste Tester has ever been actively hungry and refused to eat pizza. He could not stomach another bite. It was THAT bad.

While I enjoyed the 1 pepperoni that I had on my pizza, the Taste Tester found that it tasted like a cheap summer sausage. We both wanted to give it negative points. Organic or not, this is not a pizza we will be purchasing again.

The Best Frozen Pizza (in a convection oven)

The Taste Tester is an unabashed, unapologetic lover of ALL pizza. He is not discerning in his taste. Pizza, even pizza I would consider sub-par, is better than any other meal in his opinion. His standard in evaluating most of the things I make is-would he choose this over pizza? The answer is almost always no.

This makes eating out a challenge. Pizza is usually the cheapest option when eating out or getting take-out. And, since eating out is usually a rather unhealthy endeavor, the Taste Tester hates to waste his calories on a meal he considers only average. Therefore, we eat a lot of frozen pizzas, as they are usually cheaper and more convenient than eating out.

For as long as we have been together, the Taste Tester’s go-to frozen pizza brand was Tombstone. Pepperoni to be exact. But recently, we wondered, is this still the best frozen pizza? There have been so many recent developments in the frozen pizza realm, so we decided we should get to the bottom of it once and for all.

The Test

To determine the very best frozen pizza, we sampled a pepperoni pizza from each brand. They were each cooked in my microwave convection oven, not my conventional oven. I think this may have had an effect on the crispiness of the crust, but once we started with the convection oven, I did not think it was fair to switch. We will do another test using the conventional oven and see if that changes the results.

To help you interpret our opinions, you should know that the Taste Tester loves pepperoni and it is his preferred pizza. I like all kinds of toppings but am normally satisfied with pepperoni as well. I also prefer thin crust while the taste tester usually likes New York style pizzas, but is open to all types of crust without a strong preference.

Each pizza was rated by both the Taste Tester and myself in each of the following categories:

Crust
Toppings
Sauce
Overall

We rated them on a scale of 1-10 in each category, which left a total possible 40 points from each of us, for a total of 80 possible points.

The Results

The Taste Tester and I, in the interest of science, will continue to test as many frozen pizzas as we can get our hands on. I have summarized the scores here and I will link to the reviews as I write them! This is completely unbiased and we were not in any way compensated or requested to give these reviews. Believe it or not we took it completely upon ourselves to conduct this experiment.

Freschetta Brick Oven: 73.1%

DiGiorno Stuffed Crust: 65.6%

Red Baron Classic Crust: 50.6%

DiGiorno Rising Crust: 47.5%

Meijer Pizzeria Hand Tossed: 45%

Kroger Rising Crust: 45%

Kroger Simple Truth Organic: 15%

 

Fall Planting for a Late Harvest Garden

Last weekend (the weekend before Labor Day), I did my fall planting. My summer garden is fledgling because I put it out late due to my wedding. I just picked my first ripe tomato yesterday! This is my first year using my raised bed garden, since we moved into our home late last summer, so I am treating it as one big experiment. Overall I am pleased with the way my plants have come in and look forward to a better year next summer.

I have refused to let my lack of success in summer gardening deter me from striving for a late harvest garden. In my summer garden, I have tomato and pepper plants, along with one cucumber plant growing out of my garden into my neighbor’s yard. My garden looks like this:

garden 1

The beautifully landscaped raised bed was built with significant help from my father. Shoutout to him for picking up, transporting via truck, then carrying all these rocks up a hill . . . two days before my wedding.

Here is a diagram I drew in MS Publisher to illustrate where everything is planted:

summer garden

For the late fall/winter garden, I planted peas, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, and pumpkins. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts my first frost will be October 15 here in Southeast Michigan, so I am really getting it out pretty late. But, it has been such a hot summer I was hesitant to put it out too early. It finally felt like fall this past week, but next week it is supposed to be in the 90s again, so I am worried about my cold-weather loving plants.

According to my online research, peas can survive a temperatures as low as 28 degrees F, so I should (hopefully) be okay until at least November. I read conflicting reports here and here about the cauliflower, carrots, and pumpkins, but thought the best way to know for sure was to give it a try. The spinach I am less worried about because it can be harvested in as little as 45 days, so it should be okay. I will continue to plant the spinach every other week to have  an ongoing crop and to see how it tolerates the cooler temperatures. All of these crops thrive in lower soil temps (around 70 degrees F), so this should be the perfect time of the year to get them in the ground. Hopefully I can have a mild fall/early winter to give them the best chance of  success.

Given the limited space available in my raised bed, I had to get creative with my planting. This is how my fall plants were integrated:

Fall Garden planting

The peas were placed strategically because they need support. My hope is that I can use my existing tomato stakes to create a pea support once the peas take off. The pumpkins were planted in the corner so that they can hopefully vine out onto my neighbor’s overgrown property. The rest of the plants were just placed wherever there was space.

Here’s hoping for good weather and an excellent late fall/early winter harvest! What did you plant in your fall garden?

Bacon, Black Bean, and Corn Tacos

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Calories
3683 cal
Fat
270 g
Carbs
82 g
Protein
279 g


Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Yields 4

Bacon, Corn, & Black Bean Tacos

20 minPrep Time

25 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 7 strips bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, chopped and seeded (or leave the seeds, this is to taste)
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 ears corn, removed from cob (or about 3-4 cups)
  • Milk, to taste (optional)
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Toppings: cilantro, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

Instructions

  1. In a cast iron skillet (or other large skillet), fry bacon to desired crispness.
  2. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the bacon grease in the skillet over medium-low heat.
  3. Add the onion, followed by the peppers to the bacon grease and cook about 5 minutes, until soft but not brown. Reduce heat if needed.
  4. Add the corn to the pan. Fry corn until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. If you want to make this step even faster, microwave the corn on the cob for 5 minutes. This will mostly cook the corn then it should fry much more quickly.
  5. For a creamier-style corn, you can add a bit of milk at this time. I forgot about the milk so I did not try it this way.
  6. Once corn is cooked, stir in black beans until heated through.
  7. Cut bacon into small pieces and add to pan or use as a topping for the tacos.
  8. Makes 4 servings of two tacos each.
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http://www.foodiocentric.com/2016/08/bacon-corn-and-black-bean-tacos/

Ahhh August. Is there anyone who doesn’t love this time of the year? I mean, sure, it’s hot, but all the best things are in season. Tomatoes. Peaches. Corn. This is the time of the year to figure out how to use these fresh ingredients in as many ways as possible. Like turning corn into corn tacos. With bacon. Do I even need to say more?

corn taco 1

3 more weeks of summer means 3 more weeks of corn! (That’s right southerners-it’s still summer up north, no school until after Labor Day!) I have been buying it by the dozen and freezing it for winter. This weekend I got 5 ears/$1. Can you beat that? This year, the Taste Tester, who previously was not a big fan of corn, has come around to liking it. Partially because I have been grilling instead of boiling and partially because it’s so cheap! I was nervous about this recipe since he is not a big fan of corn, but he really liked it* and we ended up enjoying the leftovers** for dinner the following night. (Leftovers from meals the Taste Tester doesn’t care for end up as my lunch!)

corn taco 2 Read more