This is one of the reasons why I started a blog.

Story time: Yesterday I went to TJ Maxx for the first time in years to make a last-minute sunglasses purchase, but I got sucked in to the food wonders that are available at TJ Maxx. I was actually already standing in line to check out with my discounted Oscar de la Renta gold-rimmed glasses when I spotted a brown bag full of vanilla and sea-salt flavored soft caramels in a rack in front of the cash register. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW that they put those delicious looking things there to get you to make an impulsive purchase, but I was still sucked into  it. SUCKED IN! I abandoned my place in line to find the home goods section to see what other caramel collections they had, because apparently I do my grocery shopping at department stores now.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the range of specialty grocery items in the home goods section. Every single brand there was one that I had never heard of before, and all of the cookies, candies, and macarons (!) looked so good! And they were cheap, too! There were so many varieties of caramels there that I couldn’t even decide which one to pick. There was also a brand that had both triple-chocolate cookies and cranberry-almond cookies, and I couldn’t decide which one to get so I didn’t get either. So I looked for something new to try, and spotted this s’mores popcorn from a brand I’ve never heard of: The Popcorn Factory.

So what’s the first thing I do when I want to try a new food? I whip out my phone and start Googling reviews. I was so dismayed when I couldn’t find one for this popcorn! I rely on the internet to tell me if a food, makeup, clothing brand, book, etc. is good or not because there is no worse feeling than buying something you end up not liking or not eating, because it becomes a waste of money. So, I bought this popcorn anyway, and I’m going to review it so at least there would be one opinion out there on record in the world. At least one.

And that is one of the reasons why I started this blog.

Closeup kernels

On to the review!

If you love chocolate, and you love sweet stuff, you will love this popcorn. Both of those requirements are mandatory. This popcorn is incredibly chocolaty, and the kernels themselves are very sweet. It’s basically caramel corn popcorn covered in chocolate with the occasional graham cracker and marshmallow.

The graham cracker pieces in the popcorn is definitely the best part in my opinion, too bad I could only find two! I found my first graham cracker when I first opened the bag, and combined with the kernels it really gave the popcorn that s’mores flavor. I was so disappointed then when I had to eat my way to the very bottom of the bag to find more, only to be greeted with sad graham cracker crumbs.

I did find ONE other full graham cracker though, during my journey. Yes, the graham crackers are really that good.

Graham cracker

I was slightly hesitant to buy this popcorn because of its claim to also have “real marshmallows”, because I don’t like marshmallows. Well, if you do like marshmallows you may be disappointed, because I couldn’t find any in this bag. The popcorn does taste faintly of marshmallow, but it must be flavor-infused in the kernels because I couldn’t find any mini marshmallow bits, which is what I was expecting.

Kernel

All that being said, I do this this popcorn is very, very good. You really have to be in the mood for a sugar rush, though, because it really is more of a dessert than a snack. It’s sweet, which can be overwhelming if you eat too much of it. You know that stomach ache you got when you were 5 years old after eating too many Skittles and chocolate bars? Yeah, I got that last night, and I’m not 5 years old.

Popcorn bag

They blend right in!

Overall, this is a good, sweet snack. You get a pretty unique product for only $3.49, and I saw another flavor at TJ Maxx too – caramel corn! The packaging claims that the popcorn was “fresh popped”, but it doesn’t taste fresh at all. The fact that this expires in September leads me to believe that it was fresh popped five months ago.

Would I repurchase: Yes, but I would have to learn some self-restraint. This stuff will get your insulin going like no other.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hello.

Who doesn’t like cookies? I’ve never met a person who didn’t like cookies, and if there is someone out there who doesn’t like cookies I don’t want to meet them! (ok, it’s not that serious. I’m just kidding…or am I?)

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Here are two undeniable facts: cookies make people happy, and butter tastes good. Now, let’s take the latter fact a step further – browned butter tastes really, really good. The simple step of browning butter really makes these cookies. It’s an extra step, but it is so worth it.

I learned of this recipe, of course, on Pinterest. It comes from Tasty Kitchen, and I did everything except add the tablespoon of Greek yogurt simply because I had none. No worries, these cookies still came out great!

Now, to make these cookies you have to come to terms with the fact that you will be, eventually, eating two full sticks of butter. If you have family or friends to share your cookies with (if you are a crazy person who doesn’t keep delicious cookies all to yourself), you don’t have to worry about that. Otherwise, break out the defib because your heart is going to hate you!

(But your mouth will be so happy)

Butter

Butter

This is what my butter looked like after I browned it in a pan…it’s not very brown, is it? But it’s really going to add more flavor than just tossing room temperature butter in the batter. Unlike room temperature butter, the brown butter has a nutty aroma and thicker consistency. You really have to give it a try because you will taste the difference!

After browning the butter, I let it sit on the counter for a few minutes as I prepared the cookie dough. Not-so-secret-secret-time: I love cookie dough. Oh my gosh, I love cookie dough. I think sometimes that cookie dough tastes better than actual cookies. However, I feel obligated to warn you against eating cookie dough because of the raw egg and salmonella risk. Delicious soft, sugary, creamy, cookie dough isn’t worth potentially risking your life over. Creamy, yummy, buttery, cookie dough…it’s so good!

Not that you should eat it.

But I do.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough

PRO TIP: This isn’t really a tip as much as it is a necessity – refrigerate your cookie dough for about an hour, or overnight, before you bake it. Seriously, it makes a difference! Don’t skip this step, don’t!! You owe it to yourself.

After an agonizing 60 cookie-less minutes, roll the cookie dough into small balls. I just baked enough cookies that I could fit onto my cookie sheet, and froze the rest.

Cookie dough

Cookie dough

Now here comes my favorite part: rolling the cookie tough in cinnamon and sugar! I’m like a little kid, it really doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Sugar and Cinnamon

Sugar and Cinnamon

After you roll all of the cookie balls in the cinnamon-sugar mix, they’re ready to bake. Wait another 10-ish minutes, and voila! You’ve got cookies.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle

Snickerdoodle Cookie closeup

Snickerdoodle Cookie closeup

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Oh. My. Gosh.

Let me tell you something about this pasta.

turkey meatballs

I was craving spaghetti and meatballs like a mad woman for a solid week. I finally got paid, and got around to buying the ingredients earlier this week and I am SO HAPPY I did. Between you and me, I’m not a huge spaghetti person – I like short pasta better because it’s not as messy and easier to eat that spaghetti or linguine that you have to twirl around your fork and twirl into a spoon and worry about getting pasta sauce all over your chin. No, I like the simple life. I like short pasta.

I’m also not huge into red meat, so I decided to use turkey meatballs instead of beef. Crazy, I know! I followed the basics of this Herbed Turkey Meatballs recipe that I found on Pinterest, but mostly improvised the ingredients. I didn’t have oregano so I used basil, and I added a pinch of garlic powder and a chopped garlic clove. It smelled so good! I love garlic so, so much. If you don’t, you’re crazy.

I did add a little something else that the recipe didn’t call for:

Prego: Roasted Garlic Parmesan

Prego: Roasted Garlic Parmesan

This Prego pasta sauce made the meatballs moist, garlicy, and it really harmonized the flavors throughout the dish. I wasn’t measuring, but I would say I added about 1/4 cup of the pasta sauce to the meat, and mushed it up with my hands afterward. But the sauce made the meat really..saucy (surprise). So I had to add a bit more breadcrumbs than originally called for to make it firm enough for me to roll together.

Raw Meatballs

Raw Meatballs

I made aout 15 or 16ish meatballs. The Pinterest recipe said to pop them in the oven at 400 (?) degrees for 15-20 minutes, but I left them in for about 25 minutes mostly because of my phobia of undercooked meat, especially poultry. They came out nice and browned.

While that was in the oven, I boiled up some penne al-dente and mixed it up with about 1/2 of the pasta sauce in the jar.

Pasta

pasta

I could seriously eat my pasta just like this…and in my poor college student days a I have! But I am a fancy working girl now and I can afford to buy a pound of ground turkey.

So I dumped my cooked turkey balls on top of the pasta, and poured the rest of the pasta sauce on top of the meatballs. I added some water to the jar and mixed it around to get out all of the sauce, which my mom taught me to do when I was a kid.

Pasta and Meatballs

Pasta and Meatballs

Finally, I mixed that up and dug in. And it was SO GOOD!

Turkeyballs!

Turkeyballs!

Another good idea to is add some parmesan cheese on top. Get this: I went out and bought parmesan cheese for this very purpose but completely forgot I had it until I was 90% done with my meal, as you can see.

Cheese?

Cheese?

But you know what? It’s never too late to dig in.

#oscarselfie

I couldn’t resist putting myself in the most retweeted selfie of all time.

I’m hashtagfamous ; )

IG: @sammsimone

Time flew away. My bad. I meant to post this Valentine’s Day blurb last weekend, but haven’t found the time. Let’s just say life has been insane.

When things start to ge crazy and I feel like my sanity is zipping away at lightspeed, I want to take a deep breath and look at these flowers. They are so beautiful! My wonderful boyfriend sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day. My wonderful boyfriend who lives on the other side of the country, which might as well be the other side of the world sometimes. He sent me pretty purple tulips to my work to surprise me on Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t expecting anything from him at all. When the receptionist walked into the newsroom and asked for me, holding a pot of flowers, I thought she had the wrong Samantha. But they were for me 🙂 I still wasn’t sure who would be sweet enough to send me flowers until I opened the note inside and saw it was from Dan. I was so happy I almost cried. I’m lame, I know, but I’m in love!

flowers

I want to do something special with these babies. I am no expert on flower preservation, but I want to keep the petals. I want to keep the memoryof the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me alive 🙂

Valentine's Day flowers close up

Thank you, baby.