Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

How do I know the new Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa (released January 26, 2017) is actually THAT GOOD?

Well, let’s take a step back in time to when Taco Bell introduced their breakfast menu. 

I am a huge Taco Bell fan, so I thought it would be fun to bring in an assortment of Taco Bell breakfast items to the office when the menu launched.  I brought in the Waffle Taco (RIP Waffle Taco), breakfast tacos, AM Crunchwraps, and the Cinnabon Delights (which are amazing by the way).

So I got about $50 of Taco Bell breakfast for the office which accounts for A LOT of Taco Bell, and the only thing that was gone were those Cinnabon Delights, and everything else was just kind of poked and picked at (like eating the bacon or sausage out of the taco but not eating the eggs, if you know what I mean). 

So was the Taco Bell breakfast successful?  Eh.  I mean, I haven’t been back to eat it since that day.

Sooooo while I didn’t have high hopes for this Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa, I was super excited to try it and bring some to the office (and FYI Foodbeast I saw you had a launch party for the Naked Chicken Chalupa, and I want to be invited to the next major TBell launch party you have).

I got 8 of the Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupas for the office, which I already thought was too many since I didn’t expect people to like it, but I decided to go for it anyway. 

And WOAH!!  Not only did I think the Naked Chicken Chalupa was delicious, but ALL of the Naked Chicken Chalupas I brought to the office were gone.  So that should tell you something.

Ok, now for a description of the taco.  It’s a thin breaded chicken patty shaped like a taco shell.  Not as greasy as you’d actually think (and it had a crunch to it).

The bottom of the taco is covered with an avocado ranch sauce, which combats any of the dryness from the chicken taco shell.  Then it’s topped with lettuce, tomato and cheese.  But seriously.  That avocado ranch sauce needs to be on everything they serve at Taco Bell.

  • Try the Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa – it’s actually really good, the chicken shell keeps you full compared to tacos with Taco Bell’s questionable beef, and that avocado ranch sauce…do I need to say anything more?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: Cone Ice Cream

Let's talk about dessert.  Have you ever had an ice cream cone covered in Lucky Charms?  I did at Cone in Chicago, and not only was it the most ADORABLE looking ice cream cone ever, but I was able to have my ice cream with one of my favorite breakfast cereals.  See?

Cone's great because they allow you to sample the ice cream before you make your selection.  I clearly felt nostalgic, so after trying an assortment of flavors I chose my cake cone with blue Cookie Monster ice cream.

Like the famous Sesame Street character, the ice cream is bright blue (but it tastes like vanilla) and it contains chunks of Oreo cookies, cookie dough ice cream, and Chips Ahoy cookies.

But what makes Cone unique are its ice cream 'toppings,' like Lucky Charms breakfast cereal.  And you can get them on an ice cream cone as well as an ice cream sundae.  It meshed well with the sugary, cookie taste of the Cookie Monster ice cream.

  • Check out Cone in Chicago if you want some unique ice cream flavors and toppings - just look at my Cookie Monster ice cream with Lucky Charms topping!  
  • I thought prices were steep for ice cream (my cone was over $6 USD), so for me it's a once in awhile treat.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review: Silo Pizza and Chili

Coming in hot from Chicago's North Shore, Danielle's Dish went to Silo Pizza in Lake Bluff, IL, to have some pizza and chili on a cold January afternoon.  And yes, these are the best things on their menu (outside of the Taco Salad, according to others - but to me the meat doesn't taste exactly like Taco Bell, so I'll stick to pizza and chili for now).

Do you remember what the old school Pizza Hut pan crust tasted like?  Well, that's what the Silo deep dish crust is - EXACTLY like the old Pizza Hut pan crust!  And then the sauce is sweet with large chunks of tomatoes, and is extremely cheesy (especially when you eat in the restaurant with a fresh hot pizza).  Honestly, the crust is what MAKES this pizza what it is, and I haven't had anything like this since I was a kid with old school Pizza Hut.  Sorry Pizza Hut, your crust now just doesn't compare.

And then the chili - this is the best chili I've ever had.  It comes covered in onions and melted cheddar cheese, tortilla chips on the side, and then the meat - the meat in the chili is SO good!  I'm not sure if it is the same stuff as Taco Bell meat, but I'm not a big fan of ground beef unless it tastes like Taco Bell meat and this stuff does (but in the BEST WAY EVER - it's so flavorful!).  If you ever get the chili to go, you get a huge bag of chips, cheese, and onions to put on the chili yourself which I highly recommend.

  • Go to the Silo for deep dish pizza and chili!  But I'd skip the rest of the menu and just get pizza and chili.  It's worth the drive from Chicago.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review: Acai Bowls

Ok, yeah - I know this post is for something 'healthy' and not the traditional Danielle's Dish fare.  But if I like something healthy AND it actually tastes good, then I need to tell the world!

In Hawaii I had the most amazing acai bows at this food truck called Baya Bowls.  First of all, if you ever get the chance you must try the acai bowls at their food truck!  But if you can't, I'm positive there's somewhere nearby where you can try acai bowls to get a feel for the taste (or even make them at home if you find frozen acai at Trader Joe's!)

Second, if you don't know what an acai bowl is, it's a very thick acai berry + fruit smoothie that you eat with a spoon, and then it's topped with granola, various fruits, a drizzle of honey, and then an assortment of other ingredients (flax, cacao, coconut flakes, to name a few).  What's an acai berry you might ask?  Well I think it tastes like a mix between a blueberry and a grape.

The closest thing to homemade acai bowls in the Chicagoland area that I've had are at Mingle Juice Bar in Glenview.  Since they taste exactly like the acai bowls we make at home, the only reason I will go here in the future is if I don't want to cut up all the different kinds of fruit for the top, or blend up the frozen acai in my blender (it stains our counters if any of it comes out of the blender, ugh).

I tried the Blue Monday at Mingle Juice Bar, which is organic acai blended with coconut water, mixed berries, and banana; topped with granola, banana, cacoa nib, seasonal berries, and raw honey.  Doesn't it look refreshing?

  • You must try an acai bowl for a delicious and healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, date night, after a workout, or with friend!  See if there's somewhere around you that makes them, or else they're fairly simple to whip up at home.
  • And if you are in Hawaii, try the Baya Bowl food truck.  You don't want to miss it for a mind-blowing acai experience.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review: Jollibee

So it's been a long time since I last posted (i.e. years ago) and I really don't have any excuses. Sure, life got in the way (wedding, dog, home, dog, the house again), but life's always going to get in the way of whatever you are doing, so you have to push through and keep going. I also had the revelation that even though I haven't updated my Danielle's Dish Instagram in years, I've still got a steady stream of followers who kept following, so I should probably give the people what they want - more food reviews! So while Danielle's Dish posts may not be as frequent, when I have a food story to tell you about, I will.

Enough about that. This week I was messing around on my phone, probably in one of those bored moments because I have no idea how I actually stumbled upon this or even found out that this place existed, but there's a new-ish fast food restaurant that opened up in Skokie (and now in Chicago) called Jollibee. Jollibee's been around for awhile throughout the world and the United States. From what I understand, it's the Filipino solution to McDonald's. And the Jollibee mascot looks like a bumblebee in a red suit jacket. When I asked my foodie friend about Jollibee (who also knows when every new place opens up in Chicago), she said she heard about the Jollibee hype, too. And being a fast food lover myself, how could I not try this or attempt to brave the said 'long lines' mid-week when I actually had time to sit and wait?

So I buckled up myself and my dog (what can I say, I wanted company!) in the car, and we were off. First of all I have to set the record straight - there was not a crazy line at the drive-thru (2 cars ahead of me) so perhaps some of the hype around Jollibee wore off. I know much of the negativity around Jollibee has to do with how long people have said they had to wait for the food at a FAST FOOD restaurant.

I do want to say one thing about the Jollibee menu compared to other American fast food joints. It's extremely random. Sure, they have burgers and chicken. But when I pulled up to the window at the drive-thru, it smells like Chinese restaurant. Oh, and they sell Spaghetti. Something called Fiesta Noodles. A sandwich with Spam inside.

Given that I'm one person and wanted to try a sampling, below's what I came away with from Jollibee. There's only so much food that I believe is actually justifiable for one person to try and eat themselves.

To break my Jollibee findings down, I got:
  • Jolly Spaghetti meal, which came with a 2 piece Chicken Dippers, gravy for dipping, and a drink
    • Jolly Spaghetti is different from any traditional spaghetti I make at home or eat in a restaurant because the sauce is VERY sweet (I'm told this is more of a traditional Filipino spaghetti). And I LIKED that! Kind of reminded me of the spaghetti and sauce I used to eat in the elementary school cafeteria. Inside the spaghetti sauce is chunks of meat, and it's not very distinguishable what kind of meat this is. The Website says it is ham, sausage, and ground beef, but I swear it's hot dogs. It's topped with a mild cheddar cheese and the noodles are cooked al dente. Maybe it looks weird, maybe it looks like something you wouldn't normally get from a fast food restaurant - but seriously - TRY IT!!
    • There's absolutely no need to get the Chicken Dippers. The chicken batter is so flavorless that I'd rather go to KFC or Popeye's or McDonald's or Taco Bell any day for chicken. Gravy was delicious and very salty, but what fun is it to have gravy when the dipping vessel for said gravy is no good?
  • Amazing Aloha burger. Your traditional beef burger with cheese, tomato, and lettuce, but what makes it special is their sweet mayo and a juicy pineapple slice. Last time I had a burger with a pineapple slice was in Hawaii, and I loved the way the sweet meshed with the salty-ness of the burger patty. If I'm craving a fast food burger with pineapple, Jollibee's where I'm going!
  • Peach Mango pie. Has a thicker, less crispy crust than McDonald's, but a TON more filling. The mango cuts down on the overall sweetness of the filling. It was good, but I'd take chocolate any day over a fruity dessert.

  • First of all, remember this is FAST FOOD joint. So I'm reviewing this like if I was looking to eat fast food spaghetti, or a fast food chicken tender (not like what I'd eat at a Michelin Star restaurant if I ever went to one). So go in with an open mind because this is fast food.
  • Seriously try the Jolly Spaghetti and the Aloha Burger. Remember that both of these items have a sweet flavor to them. 
  • Skip the Chicken Dippers.
  • Only have the Peach Mango Pie if you are a pie person. Or love Peaches and Mangoes. Next time I'll have to try the Halo-Halo dessert (it's the colors of the rainbow and has what looks like balls of ice cream in it).