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December 2021

Bourbon Review: Knob Creek Smoked Maple

By Mike Thayer

Knob Creek Smoked Maple
Straight Shot

Blended and flavored whiskeys continue to be red hot in popularity, consumer demand for brown spirits remains on the rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Ole Smoky Peanut Butter flavored whiskey.  It's BETTER than Skrewball!

Today's review is a taste of maple!  I was gifted a bottle for Christmas, a very pleasant surprise.

Here's the short description from the Knob Creek website:  We blend this bourbon with natural smoked maple flavors for a unique, smoky sweetness. 

I sampled this whiskey in a straight shot and on the rocks.  In pulling the stopper, you get a nice whiff of maple with a hint of smoke.  At 90 proof, this bourbon is full-bodied, you get the maple at the front but it's not overly sweet and is followed by the smoke and complimentary notes of vanilla and caramel.  It's an excellent, warm, bourbon finish.  I enjoyed it best on the rocks, the ice elevating all the flavor notes in a cleaner sip if you will.

Retailing for about $30, Knob Creek Smoked Maple is a higher quality whiskey than say Jim Beam.  It's slightly sweet but not too maple forward, it's smokey smooth and deserves a spot in your liquor cabinet.  I'm giving it 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. A great fall/winter sipping whiskey, I'm reserving this for special occasions and it's most definitely a repeat buy.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Drink Review: Jim Beam Maple Whiskey


Food Review: Sonic's Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich

By Mike Thayer

Sonic's Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich
A fried beef sandwich, what's not to like?

I've been on a bit of a Sonic kick lately, it's been my go-to when I'm not quite sure what I'm in the mood for.  Their menu is quite diverse, one that can satisfy just about any kind of fast food craving, the drive-up joint pretty much has everything covered.  There are salty and sweet choices, tender and juicy options, there's crispy and crunchy variety... all kinds of textures and flavor notes are on the Sonic menu.  

On this occasion I didn't really know if I wanted a burger, a chicken sandwich, or sauced up chicken tenders so what I do when I'm in that "I'm hungry but I don't really know what I'm in the mood for" mood...  I pull into a Sonic, start reading the menu and order whatever pops out at me...  It didn't take long for it to hit me - Sonic's Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich!

Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich
Excellent meat to bread ratio

I've never had this Sonic offering before and what a perfect selection for my "Not quite sure what I'm in the mood for" mood...  Country fried steak in a sandwich, it's beef, battered and fried like chicken!  Topped with mayo, lettuce, tomato and served on Texas toast this sounded like a winner, winner chicken but it's beef dinner!

This sandwich hits all the fast food craving notes, the nicely seasoned, tender, juicy beef with that batter providing a nice crunch in each bite.  The creamy mayo, lettuce and tomato give the sandwich balance and that Texas toast, oh my!  The toast is a perfect compliment to the fried beef, it's buttery and delightfully crispy on the outside without being greasy on the fingers and soft, fluffy, delicious on the inside. 

Country Fried Steak
The only real downer, not the freshest looking tomato, too thinly sliced too

Costing me $8.97 for a combo meal which included tots and Sonic's classic cherry limeade, I'm giving the Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a very good sandwich, satisfies just about any kind of burger or fried chicken craving, it's wallet friendly and is most definitely a repeat buy.  My only knock on the sandwich was the tomato slices, not the best looking tomato...

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Food Review: Sonic's FRITOS® Chili Cheese Wraps

Sonic's Fritos Chili Cheese Wrap Jr.
The Jr. Wrap is a very tasty on-the-go snack

By Mike Thayer

FRITOS® Chili Cheese Wraps are Back!

It's crunchy, cheesy, melty comfort food at a bargain price.

The Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Wrap features an 8-in flour tortilla wrapped around warm chili, melted Cheddar cheese and crunchy Fritos Corn Chips for just 99¢!

These wraps are a perfect on-the-go snack when out-and-about running errands or yes, doing the dreaded Christmas shopping.  And for bigger appetites, Sonic also has a regular Fritos Chili Cheese Wrap made with more of all those great crunchy, cheesy, melty ingredients all wrapped in a large flour tortilla.

Fritos Chili Cheese Wrap Jr.
Chili, cheese, Fritos, all wrapped in a warm tortilla, what's not to like?

I'm giving Sonic's Fritos Chili Cheese Jr. Wrap 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They pack flavor and crunch and the price is right, definitely a repeat buy!  Fritos Chili Cheese Wraps can be found at participating Sonic locations nationwide for a limited time.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Food Review: Sonic's Garlic Butter Bacon Burger

By Mike Thayer

Sonic Garlic Butter Bacon Burger
This burger packs some flavor!

If you are a fan of the Sonic Garlic Butter Bacon Burger, you only have until December 26 to enjoy it.  If you have never eaten a Sonic Garlic Butter Burger, you only have until December 26 to become a fan. 

Sonic brought back this fan favorite with some very tasty upgrades on November 1.  Here's the description:

The burger has a perfectly seasoned 100% pure beef patty topped with creamy garlic butter layered between two slices of melty American cheese, with crispy bacon, mayo, and grilled onions piled on a toasted bakery bun.

Garlic Butter Bacon Burger
The cut-away, perfectly layered and balanced, this burger was made with care

The company says the Garlic Butter Bacon Burger is "bliss for garlic and butter lovers alike." Scott Uehlein, an executive chef at Sonic, added that "this year, Sonic has been dedicated to enhancing our burgers by making them meltier and juicier, and we hope our guests enjoy the popular Garlic Butter Bacon Burger."  He continued, "Our culinary team took on this exciting challenge by doubling up the cheesiness and adding even more creamy garlic butter. To top it all off, the Garlic Butter Bacon Burger is stacked on a toasted bakery bun that SONIC guests will love as they satisfy their garlic butter craving!” 

Let me tell you, this burger packs some flavor!  You get the whiff of garlic as you peel back the foil wrapper for the reveal.  In taking that first bite it's butter, garlic, that seasoned beef, crispy bacon, grillled onion, a bit of mayo, the melted cheese and toasted yet 'pillowy' bun all performing a BIG TIME happy burger dance in your mouth.  It's another dose of YUM!  It is indeed a blissful bite and Sonic has done well here in satisfying anyone's garlic butter craving.  This burger flat out rocks!

garlic butter bacon burger
every ingredient in every bite

I'm giving the Sonic Garlic Butter Bacon Burger 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  With the combo costing me $8.27 for the burger, tots and a Cherry Limeade, this is most definitely a repeat buy, but I'll have to do it before this limited time offer concludes on December 26!

De-Frick'n-licious!

$pend Wisely My Friends...

5 stars

 


Food Review: Popeyes' New Homestyle Mac & Cheese

By Mike Thayer

Popeyes Homestyle Mac & Cheese
A nice alternative side to fries

Mac & Cheese, it's probably on most people's Top 10 list of comfort foods and it's a trending side now with many fast food restaurants, an alternative to the standard offering of fries.  

Today, I'm sampling the mac & cheese version of the comfort food and cult classic from Popeyes.

Here's the description from the restaurant's website:  Mac & Cheese made with real butter and cream and topped with shredded cheddar cheese to create a golden brown crust when baked in the oven.

This is a nice mac & cheese.  You get the butter and cream in every bite, the sauce is a nice creamy consistency and the coverage is complete.  The golden brown shredded cheddar topping while tasty, wasn't evenly distributed.  The foundation of this classic, the noodles, were a bit on the soggy side, a bit of a downer.  I like noodles to be a little al dente, but that might be too much to expect in a fast food mac & cheese.  Overall, this is a good mac & cheese, it's seasoned well, creamy, comforting, a really nice change-of-pace to french fries.

Costing less than $2 for a regular size side, I'm giving Popeyes New Homestyle Mac & Cheese 4 out of 5 stars.  More reasonably priced than competitor sides, this is a nicely done homestyle mac & cheese and better than what the other fast food joints reviewed below are offering.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Fast Food Mac & Cheese Battle: Arby's vs. Chick-fil-A vs. KFC

Related: Giving Mac & Cheese another dose of YUM!


Food Review: Dot's Homestyle Pretzels - best bagged pretzel around

By Mike Thayer

Dot's Homestyle Pretzels
Original Seasoned Pretzel Twists

I like pretzels, they're a nice alternative to chips when you're in the mood for that salty snack.  You can also doctor them up, a very popular thing to do for football tailgates and holiday gatherings.  Quick "doctoring up" pretzel ideas include dipping them in chocolate, including them in a Chex Mix Snack Mix kind of thing, using them in a pie crust, or including them in toffee/brittle recipes.

Today I sampled the Original seasoned pretzel twists for the first time.  These are now my go-to pretzels!  They are addicting like no other bagged pretzel I've ever tasted.  Uniquely seasoned with buttery notes, I couldn't quit popping them in my mouth.   Some bagged pretzel brands will come off as dry and too crumbly, not so with Dot's!  These braided pretzels are stellar, they're fantastic as is, hold up superbly in dipping and make a wonderful crushed pretzel and pecan pie crust!

Dot's Homestyle Pretzels Original Seasoned Pretzel Twists
Great snack, handy to have on hand for guests, excellent addition to a party menu

Costing me about $6 for a 16 ounce bag, I'm giving Dot's Homestyle Pretzels Original Seasoned Pretzel Twists 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Anytime I want pretzels, I'm looking for a bag of Dot's!  I also tried Dot's Southwest Seasoned Pretzels and they were also quite stellar, both are repeat buys!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

 


Food Review: Ortega Taco Pizza Kit

By Mike Thayer

Ortega Taco Pizza Kit
Taco pizza dinner convenience

Here is a convenient dinner kit that comes in handy after a busy day on the job, you just want to go home and chill, when fast food or dining out just don't sound appealing.

The Ortega Taco Pizza Kit includes two pizza crusts made with corn meal, Ortega's original taco seasoning packet and a sauce packet for topping the finished pizza.  All you have to do in the preparation of these pizzas is cook up the meat, add toppings and cheese, bake for a bit and dinner is served!  This is perfect for dinner in front of the TV after a long day.

Ortega Taco Pizza Kit
Browning up the meat and some jalapenos

I browned up some ground beef along with some jalapeno and onion, threw in the taco seasoning from the kit, topped the pizzas with cheese and taco sauce and placed them in the oven.  All told, I had a delicious dinner in under 20 minutes.

Not only is this product convenient, it tastes good.  I feared the crusts would be cardboard, but they're actually pretty good, providing a nice foundation for the meat and toppings.  I was unfortunately out of lettuce and tomato at the time of preparing this kit, so absent of those classic taco pizza toppings, I loaded up on the meat and cheese.  The crusts handled the overload nicely.  The seasoning and sauce packets Ortega provides are mild, yet deliver nicely with that taco spice flavor.  The size of the crusts are decent too, it's a perfect serving for two, so I had one for dinner and a leftover taco pizza for lunch the next day.

Taco Pizza
Taco seasoned meat and cheese, no lettuce or tomato required

Costing about $3.50, I'm giving the Ortega Taco Pizza Kit 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Wallet friendly, super convenient and tasty, this is a repeat buy.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 


Drink Review: Wild Turkey American Honey

By Mike Thayer

Wild Turkey American Honey
Rich and flavorful

Here's another fun shot to enjoy over the holidays!

Blended and flavored whiskeys continue to be red hot in popularity, consumer demand for brown spirits remains on the rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Ole Smoky Peanut Butter flavored whiskey.  It's BETTER than Skrewball!

Today's review is a taste of honey!

Bottled as a liqueur, here's the description of Wild Turkey American Honey from the bottle:  Exceptionally smooth liqueur blended with pure honey and bourbon whiskey.

With a proof of 71 and aged 4 years, this blend of bourbon and honey has a great, fragrant nose, you get that sweet whiff of honey right away in taking the cap off the bottle.  The mouthfeel is rich and flavorful, delivering the honey in front followed by notes of vanilla from the Wild Turkey finish. 

Costing me about $14 for a 350ml bottle, I'm giving Wild Turkey American Honey 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's a bit pricey but it's quite delicious especially over ice.  A repeat buy, I also look forward to cooking with this, the blend of bourbon and honey will lend itself well to a number of dishes!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Whiskey Review: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey

Related: Drink Review: Jim Beam Honey Whiskey


Food Review: Wendy's has the cheapest breakfast in town

Wendy's Breakfast Biscuits
Best Fast Food Breakfast Deal in Town

By Mike Thayer

What?  A Sausage, Egg & Cheese or Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit for just $1?

It's true, quite tasty and truly satisfying!

Wendy's is currently offering their Sausage, Egg & Cheese biscuit or their Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit for just $1.  DEAL!

You would be hard pressed to make a hot breakfast at home that cheap!  Never mind the work and time involved...

Wendy's Breakfast Biscuits
You can't go wrong with either the sausage or bacon biscuit

So on Friday, I had Wendy's for breakfast, ordering both the Sausage, Egg & Cheese biscuit and the Bacon, Egg & Cheese biscuit for breakfast.

Total cost: $2.15.  Talk about Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly!

The biscuits were warm and flaky, quite excellent.  The meats were prepared well, a nice portion in each along with a whole egg and the cheese is melted nicely.  Either one is a VERY GOOD breakfast biscuit and only costs $1!

Which one was my favorite?  I'm a sausage guy, but I would order either again without hesitation.

Wendy's Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit
bacon in every bite

I'm giving the Wendy's breakfast biscuit deal 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  These breakfast biscuit sandwiches are darn tasty and the cheapest fast food breakfast in town!  It's SO worthy of a repeat buy, but only available for a limited time.

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Wendy's Sausage Egg and Cheese Biscuit
A square sausage patty, OK, it's Wendy's after all, no matter, it's good sausage

 

 


Food Review: Wendy's Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken

By Mike Thayer

Wendy's Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken
The cheddar bun is nice, but unfortunately you don't get the toasted cheddar in every bite

Wendy's kicked things up a notch in August and took a step ahead of the burger competition by introducing their Cheddar Bun, featured in a Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger.  You can check out that review here.  The toasted cheese on the bun has been so popular, Wendy's now features the bun in select chicken sandwiches in addition to the burger option.

So with that cheddar bun in mind, today I'm reviewing the Wendy's Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich

Here's the description from the Wendy's website:  A juicy, lightly breaded chicken breast covered in creamy cheddar cheese and bacon jam, topped with Applewood smoked bacon, crispy onions, and a slice of American cheese, all on a pillow-soft, toasted cheddar bun. If the world runs out of bacon and cheese, we’ll take the blame.

This my friends is a very nice chicken sandwich!  The chicken was fried perfectly, it was tender, juicy, the breading was seasoned well with a nice crunch.  There's A LOT of flavor going on with the bacon jam enhancing that Applewood smoked bacon, you get the notes of pimento in the creamy cheddar cheese. Despite the warmth of the sandwich, the sauces and melted American cheese, the crispy onions remained crispy.  Tying it all together was the toasted cheddar bun, which elevates the sandwich.

Wendy's Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken
The under the lid reveal
Wendy's Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich
Not the thickest chicken breast in fast food

Costing me $9.99 for a combo meal that included Wendy's new fries and a drink, I'm giving the Wendy's Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's big on flavor, but the lack of a more complete cheddar coverage on the bun and a less than 'Big' sized chicken breast holds this sandwich back from being a 5 star sandwich.  Popeyes is still king.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related:  Taco Bell vs. Wendy's in a toasted cheese war