Dunkin’s Spooky Ghost Pepper Donuts – Great marketing, good treat

It’s no secret I’m something of a spicy food addict. I have a shelf in my fridge dedicated to hot sauce, which has overflowed onto other shelves. I try the hottest wings available at restaurants for kicks and giggles. You get the idea.

However! There has to be taste and not just heat. I hate spicy things that just taste like pain (looking at you, Triple Atomic Wings at Quaker Steak & Lube).

Enter Dunkin’ with their Spooky Ghost Pepper Donut. A friend of mine brought it to my attention, and I am a shameless buffoon when it comes to gimmicks. I knew I had to try this damn thing. For science, obviously. Before proceeding, some details worth noting:

  • The Ghost Pepper clocks in around 1 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU) (the scale by which spicy foods are measured).
  • For comparison, the Carolina Reaper is around 1.5 SHU.
  • Both the Dragon’s Breath and Pepper X peppers are hotter still.
  • That said, 1.5 million is nothing to sneeze at.
  • The Spooky Ghost Pepper Donut is a standard Dunkin strawberry iced donut with the addition of both cayenne and ghost pepper powders.
  • There obviously aren’t just straight-up peppers on the donuts – they’re present in powdered form. Eating a whole ghost pepper is absolutely a different experience from having something seasoned with it.
  • I would not recommend eating a straight-up ghost pepper.
Proof of acquiring the donuts, I guess.

The local Dunkin had plenty of Spooky Ghost Pepper Donuts this morning, which honestly surprised me because I have trash luck with this kind of thing. I went in with mixed expectations, and honestly was pleased with the end product. These balance sweet and heat nicely. The spiciness hits right after the first bite, creeping up the throat and spreading around the mouth. It lingers. It’ll leave your face feeling a bit warm. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s definitely a treat I can see being too much for some.

Omnomnom. Spooky, spicy treat.

Dunkin’ did these perfectly, I think, in terms of heat. People who went into eating these expecting something that will melt their faces off were clearly disappointed, and I’m admittedly a little baffled by that response. Dunkin’ had to pull off a careful balancing act with this release. No real heat, and this would be just another strawberry donut. Too much heat? For starters, that would likely impact sales. People are intrigued by the prospect of trying something that could be a bit spicy, and word of mouth will help sell it. If it’s agony to eat one of these? Not as likely to make sales.

Also, with Dunkin’ encouraging people to use these to put a little mischief in their Halloween spirit by prankong friends with them? I see lawsuit potential galore if they packed these with enough heat to make it feel like you’re passing lava the next day.

The strawberry is a bit too cloyingly sweet, but otherwise the balance of cayenne and ghost pepper make this a fun novelty treat worth checking out. Just don’t be that person and surprise a friend with it, or you deserve suitably terrible pranks in response.

Overall, this is a solid offering and I hope it returns to haunt Dunkin’ stores each year around spooky season.

A foul mood bested by good food

Something about Spring cleaning combined with the last few days of vacation is a bit disgusting to me. Admittedly, this idea was one I had before I took this vacation, and so I only have myself to blame. Alternatively, I did manage to nearly Gorilla Glue two of my fingers together while trying to put a kitchen cabinet back together. I did, however, accomplish much of what I planned on achieving today, and more importantly I do now plan on doing more writing for my novel-project.

The best part of this Friday, aside from catching up on my shows, was dinner. My parents so very kindly sent me back to Altoona with a few goodies of the food variety, among which was some kielbasa. I cooked up said kielbasa, mixing it in with angel hair pasta and two varieties of alfredo sauce (four cheese and garlic). Added some additional garlic powder and a dash of cayenne to taste, and so my lousy Friday was bested by a generous helping of homemade comfort foods. Here’s the obligatory food picture so I feel less guilty about being lazy here in favor of working on the novel-project.

What I lack in plating skills I make up for with delicious food. Probably.

What I lack in plating skills I make up for with delicious food. Probably.

Monday musings

Today has been a fun blend of good and bad, but I can’t really complain at this point since the good presently outweighs the bad. My trip to the dermatologist was relatively uneventful, but I have to get another mole removed so as to avoid continuing the somewhat time-honored tradition of potential skin cancer developing. Some inspiration may have struck, but now that I’m thinking it through I’m a bit iffy (the novel writing will, sadly, wait until tomorrow). In light of feeling like my skull has been used as a volleyball today (Yes, I know I spend a lot of time with headaches. It’s the blessing of having molars that extend into my sinuses.), here’s some of today’s thoughts, events, and creative (or not-so-creative) ideas.

  • Fudge Brownie ice from Rita’s Italian Ice tastes how I imagine Tootsie Rolls would taste if you melted them down, then froze them. I’m not saying this is a bad thing so much as a bit of an odd taste experience.
  • I was told to switch to Dove body wash today, as Old Spice is apparently drying out my skin. My dermatologist said Old Spice body wash is more about the perfume, which explains why I’ve been such a manly-stinking lizard of gross, shedding skin lately. She clarified that there is Dove for Men, and seemed puzzled when I responded by saying I just want something that doesn’t make me dry like the desert.
  • My Of Monsters And Men concert shirt has emerged from its hiding place! I apparently left it in Carnegie forever ago. It still fits, which means I’ve not gotten too much fatter since seeing OMAM in concert. Small victories, people.
  • The go-to response to seeing my tattoo is some variation of “I didn’t think you were a tattoo kind of guy”, followed by asking me if I really thought it through. I don’t take offense to this, however, as nothing comes close to having someone ask me if anyone has ever asked if they can lick my tattoo. No, by the way. No one has. I’d like to keep it that way, thanks.
  • I have a pretty good idea as to where I want to go with the next chapter of A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders, but I’m actually still on the fence. It’d be another sort of intermission chapter, building some much-needed humor back into the narrative, but…Actually, now that I think about it there are more pros than cons. No spoilers!
  • Mango Habanero chicken wings are my favorite kind of chicken wings, but no one does them nearly as well as Buffalo Wild Wings. Perfect balance of heat and sweet (I didn’t set out to make that rhyme, but I also had to take a good bit of ibuprofen to make my head stop hurting…so I’ll blame the headache).
  • Carnegie will always act as a second home to me, if only because living near Pittsburgh has spoiled me. Do I want to go out to eat? Plenty of choices. Movies? What theater should I go to? Or maybe I should buy tickets to a play or musical (or sporting event or concert and so on and so on)? That said, I still think most Pittsburgh drivers, especially everyone else on the Parkway, are completely insane. To be fair, those people probably call me insane (as well as other, more profane things).
  • I really want to get my next tattoo, but I also have to pretend I am a responsible adult who can manage his money without immediately leaping at shiny things. The reality is that I’m a magpie, and I need shiny things. Womp womp.

At any rate, I should be winding down for the night so as to make sure I get enough sleep for tomorrow’s doctor’s appointment/mole removal. I hope that you all, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, are having a relatively pleasant start to the week.

Post-Thanksgiving, post-hiatus…er, post

It certainly feels like it’s been ages since my last post, which makes sense since I dropped off of the planet (from a blogging and social media standpoint, at least) after the hundred days of blogging finished up. Thanksgiving reminded me of the many things I have to be thankful for, and Black Friday reminded me that people are absolutely, completely, and irredeemably insane at times (but not all of them, so at least there’s that). I somehow, to the surprise of quite a few people, lived through another trip around the sun. I’m now a year closer to thirty, which feels a bit odd to say because my childhood goal-mapping said by this point I would either be a sagely old man dispensing wisdom or an all-powerful overlord of all creation, but I appear to be neither. Maybe that’s for later in the year. Continue reading

Lazy comfort food post…go!

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Today kicked my ass so savagely that all I can think about is sleep and the weekend ahead of me. Instead of my planned post, gaze upon the spiced, cheddar-stuffed baked chicken I made and know it was worth setting off the smoke alarm twice while making it.

I cut the chicken breasts just enough to stuff cheddar cheese, both cubed and shredded, into the chicken. Closed it up, then added sea salt, pepper, a dash of lemon juice, a little garlic powder, and some cayenne powder to mine. I drizzled just a little olive oil over top of the chicken before putting it in the oven at 450 degrees for twenty-five minutes. Turned out pretty well.

A little comfort food

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Today had a fair few trials and tribulations I could have done without, and so I’m happy to instead post about the dinner experimenting I just finished working on. It’s just as unhealthy as it looks.

I took boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them down the middle (I’d say I butterflied them, but I can’t take myself that seriously as a cook). I stuffed the chicken with mozzarella cheese, closing it again and wrapping it with bacon. Some pepper and olive oil were added, and to try something different I topped it with a dash of real maple syrup to offset the saltiness of everything else. Fingers crossed it turned out well.

A breakfast of champions

Not to be mistaken for Breakfast of Champions, which I haven’t read in years and now suddenly find myself wanting to find and reread. Not even sort of the point of this post. And now a pause for the appropriate number of gasps incited by today’s post happening before 10pm or later. Only the appropriate number, however; I’ll have no excessive or exaggerated signs of shock on my posts, thank you very much.

This is a food post, entirely and apologetically. I’ve been trying to cook more lately instead of opting to go out for dinner, which is just as well since it’s less expensive to throw together ingredients in the hopes it will transform into something mostly edible (I’m working at about a 75% success rate here, so I’m going to say I’ve been doing something right). I really enjoy cooking, if only because it gives me a chance to revert to the days I spent dreaming of being a mad scientist. There are, quite sadly, far fewer robots involved in cooking meals, but I’ll think of a way to change that up sooner or later. Continue reading

An oddly responsible day off

My days off of work are pretty sacred to me, in that I generally try to relax at least a little bit. Today wasn’t an exception to that rule of sorts.

Marceline the Adventure Bean, our third cat, had a vet appointment for her final vaccinations, and I had a very pressing need to find out why the Hell the Maintenance Required light was on in my car (spoilers: it wasn’t because it missed my bright, beautiful smile). I also had come to the realization that there’s not a whole lot by way of food in the new place, which was something I decided needed correcting. I wanted to get a haircut, but that didn’t quite manage to happen. We’ll get back to that.

My errands followed one another quite neatly, with the vet appointment going smoothly, the cleaning out of my car going well, and then the oil change & battery check-up for my car going poorly. Womp womp. Turns out the issues I’d noticed lately were because my poor ol’ Toyota’s battery needed replacing, but the folks at the Plank Road Jiffy Lube are the absolute best. Problem solved nice and quickly. Thanks to stopping there, I saw a recipe on TV for two ingredient chicken (skin-on chicken breasts; add garlic and herb brie or Borsin, then bake…For those interested, Google two ingredient chicken), and so dinner plans were set.

If this post sounds oddly responsible, that’s because it is. I wanted to get some writing done today, but that didn’t quite happen (it will be happening tomorrow instead, as I have self-imposed deadlines to meet). There’s a problem there, however, because I had plenty of creative thoughts rattling around that were left to wait. They seem to have conspired with my love of cooking. Something made me think of scotch bonnets, which are a type of very hot pepper similar to habaneros. They’re commonly, or so Google says, used for Caribbean jerk recipes and have a sweeter taste than their similarly-spicy pepper cousins. I suddenly found myself, a couple hours ago, wanting to use them to make something. I couldn’t figure out what.

My current idea? I happened upon a recipe for caramel sauce with cayenne pepper in it, and decided trying it with scotch bonnets could be plausible. I’ll have to post the results once this food experimentation invariably happens.

How do you other creative types seem to handle the untapped creative ideas in situations like this?

I’d say more, but I work very early tomorrow. Pretty sure this hundred days is almost up, but I need to verify that to be sure.

Creative cooking

Or “I owe a fair bit of editing and really want to start on my unnamed novel project, so here’s a cool thing I made on a whim”.

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This may have been one of the tastiest crazy ideas I’ve ever had.

I love to cook, which goes hand-in-hand with loving food for me. Coming up with new, potentially delicious dishes is exciting in similar ways to binge-writing tends to be.

My annual health screening at work revealed something I had figured out on my own: I need to shed some weight. Not one to just say meh and give up (yes, I do that sometimes; shut up), I decided I needed to make a healthy dinner tonight. Above is only part of the dinner; a mango-pineapple-pomegranate salsa-thing of my own design. I applied a bit of Pyrat XO Reserve to the sauce pan before adding the diced fruit bits.

The orange aromas from the Pyrat were especially noticeable as this mix heated up, and the kitchen still smells like some new, secret scent from Bath & Body Works. The pineapple broke down somewhat, mixing in with the mango and pomegranate quite nicely. Overall, it went very nicely with chicken and mixed veggies. Definitely something I’d make again.

A day of recovery

I’m going to focus largely on the good here, as today was actually an excrement sandwich sprinkled with shards of broken glass and used hypodermic needles of questionable origin. There may be a touch of hyperbole there, but to be fair I also just realized my next post-vacation day off is fourteen days away from when my vacation occurred (with some of those days involving multiple shifts). It makes me tired to even think about it, so I’m going to shift my focus elsewhere.

The stuff – After work, I headed over to Walmart to pick up some ingredients for dinner. I had no actual game-plan in mind, but I figured I could probably mange to make something relatively edible without too much effort. Keeping in mind I didn’t want to do more of the usual, I picked up some chicken (off to a poor start on avoiding the usual) and I wandered around a bit. The end result was I bought some yellow and orange bell peppers, some sugar snap peas, and some baby carrots (which didn’t end up in the dish anyway). I wasn’t quite sure how I’d prepare the chicken until I walked by a display of dressings and spotted a bottle of raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing, which I’m not ashamed to say I’m actually too lazy to type out repeatedly, ended up being a marinade for the chicken. Tossed it in a bag and let it hang out in the fridge for a bit while I took a nap. Brianne had a very busy day with a doctor’s appointment followed by work followed by one of her grad courses, so I had some time between thinking up dinner and making the actual meal.

Bragging that isn’t really bragging – I managed to get into a Looking For Raid iteration of The Dread Approach after minimal waiting. I was probably one of the lowest DPS players in there, but I also managed to not die. Something about half of the people in our raid couldn’t say about themselves, unfortunately, as people seemed pretty intent on standing in the fire whenever possible. This was my first time really doing any raiding in Mists of Pandaria (ignoring that I did get into an LFR group right at Sha of Fear last week; that was fun). I nabbed a good few pieces of gear and generally enjoyed myself. The best part, however, was that my queue for Terrace of Endless Spring popped right after I completed The Dread Approach. As I’ve not gotten anywhere in my Legendary cloak questing, I was pretty happy to get to 4 of each…er, Mark I guess. Marks of Wisdom and Power? I’m not looking it up. The point is I got to kill things I’ve never killed before, and if that’s not what raiding is all about then I must be doing it wrong. Note to self: I still need to try my hand at getting the other Thunderfury binding before next Tuesday (damn it).

Dinner turned out really well. It’s Brianne-approved, so that’s a plus. It was absolutely awful to look at, but it was a nice and healthy sweet meal I’ll have to try my hand at making again soon.

The best part of tonight is that I feel pretty rejuvenated. It’s a bit surprising, actually, as I ended work and shopping feeling very stressed out. A lot of it is a matter of accepting things that aren’t presently within my control and moving along with the things I can handle in the present (shocking, I know). The nap certainly didn’t hurt.

In closing – Here’s wishing everyone a relatively insanity-free next fourteen days, and in doing so sending the same wishes to myself. Victory is just ahead, right?