Wednesday, August 8, 2007

New favorites

Okay, I have a few new favorite Trader Joe's items that I wanted to share. First I tried the low-fat cilantro salad dressing (found in the refrigerated produce section) last night - absolutely phenomenal! We just had it on a green salad with romaine, tomatoes, corn, and TJ's croutons....I couldn't get enough of it and couldn't believe it was low fat. It really tasted homemade and the cilantro flavor is perfectly intense. Anyway, I've already started dreaming of ways to use more recipes and ideas to come on that one!

Also, here are two simple recipes using some of my other new favorites:

Best Grilled bread
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 jar TJ's grilled vegetable bruschetta
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
Slice baguette in half lengthwise and brush with a little olive oil. Grill over medium heat until toasted. Cut into smaller pieces, sprinkle with a little sea salt, and serve with bruschetta.

Easy Pasta
  • 1 jar TJ's regular tomato bruschetta (mostly tomatoes, in a tall square jar)
  • 1 package spinach chive fettucini
  • 1 tub TJ's perlini (tiny mozzarella balls)
Drain perlini and mix with bruschetta in a small bowl. Marinate for atleast 30 minutes. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and allow to cool for a few minutes so pasta isn't too hot (I didn't want the mozzarella balls to melt). Toss with bruschetta/cheese mixture and serve. Yummy!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Salsa Chicken

Salsa Chicken
  • 4-6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 package low sodium taco seasoning (or create your own spice blend with chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper)
  • 1 jar salsa
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional: sliced black olives, chopped green chiles, corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/2 cup salsa in baking dish. Pour taco seasoning or spice mixture in shallow dish. Dredge each chicken piece in seasoning and place in pan on top of salsa. Cover with 1 cup of salsa. Cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover pan, sprinkle dish with olives, chiles, corn and definitely lots of cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes until cheese melted and browned. Serve with rice or cousous.

Chimichurri Tomatoes

Well, I've been slacking for the past few weeks, haven't been posting at all, but I'm back in the game. I've been going through one of those phases where I haven't felt inspired to cook - so we've been eating lots of pasta and a variety of Trader Joe's frozen foods....mixed with an occasional "breakfast for dinner" and an occasional pizza or Burger King run (please don't tell anyone!). Anyway, I finally made a nice dinner last night: Salsa Chicken (recipe to follow), couscous, and my Chimichurri tomatoes and it tasted so good. Here are the recipes:

Chimichurri Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 big container TJ's mini pearl tomatoes
- 2-3 TBL TJ's Chimichurri sauce

Heat oven-proof saute pan over medium high heat, add Chimichurri sauce. Once slightly warmed, add tomatoes and stir until coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Put in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or 375 degree oven for 15-20 until tomatoes are roasted through. (Note: when I made these, the sauce that wasn't stuck to the tomatoes cooked and got crispy on the bottom of the pan - yummy! So, when I served them I mixed the tomatoes with this additional crispy sauce from the bottom of the pan).

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Paula Deen's Creamy Mac and Cheese

Okay, so the mac n' cheese was a huge hit. The kids liked it (I think in their minds, though, it paled in comparison to the gigantic chocolate birthday cake) and we loved it (even got to eat it for dinner the next night). So, here's the recipe for those of you who appreciate the joys of butter and cheese and are ballsy enough to not count fat or calories (at least for this meal). Its worth it.

Creamy macaroni and cheese (from "Paula Deen Celebrates")
-3+ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
-2.5 cups (about 10 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-3 eggs, beaten
-1/2 cup sour cream
-One 10.75 ounce can cheddar cheese soup
-4 TBL butter, cut into pieces
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup whole milk
-1/2 tsp dry mustard
-1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Boil the macaroni in 2-quart saucepan in plenty of water until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain. Return the drained macaroni to the saucepan and add 2 cups of the cheese. Stir until the cheese melts while the macaroni is still hot. Add the eggs, sour cream, soup, butter, salt, milk, mustard, and pepper and stir well. Pour into prepared dish. Smooth top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Bake for 40 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Serves 12.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The walking wounded

Given that I just experienced my first cooking wound of the week (stuck my hand in a soup can in the process of washing it, sliced my thumb, now its bandaged and needs a break) I've now got a little bit of time to talk about what I've been up to lately.

Lets see, I've just finished a wonderful book (so wonderful that I'm now feeling a bit lost without it).... "Julie and Julia." Its a wonderful, entertaining, and pretty hilarious book about a young woman who for some crazy reason decides to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year, and the adventure that ensues. She blogs about her experience (check it out) the reader insight into not only her pretty hilarious life, but also into Julia Child's life and love of cooking. Not that I think my blog will ever be as cool as hers or that I'll get a book deal, but she definitely inspired me to see what this blogging thing is all about.

Now, back to my injury. The soup (the infamous soup that led to the can that led to the wound that led to the bandaid that led to my taking a break from the kitchen) was one of the ingredients in the Macaroni and Cheese that I was making this morning for my little guy's birthday dinner tomorrow. He's turning one, so I'm making macaroni for our family birthday dinner. Its a new recipe, one I've never tried, but its one of Paula Deen's recipes and honestly every single recipe of hers that I've ever made always turns out amazing. You know how sometimes you don't want to risk trying a new recipe when having people over or making a casserole for someone who's just had a baby...well, I don't ever worry about that with Paula Deen.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it turns out....and if its good, I'll post the recipe. Crap, the dog just heard one of those imaginary sounds, barked really loud, and woke the baby! Until next time...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beef Pot Pie

My favorite, easiest comfort food: Beef Pot Pie

1 package of two pre-rolled, ready to use TJ’s piecrusts

1 TJ’s potroast

1 bag TJ’s frozen vegetables in butter sauce (carrots, peas, cauliflower)

Warm potroast according to package instructions, and shred or chop. Cook vegetables according to directions. Mix all ingredients together, season with salt and pepper. Pour into piecrust, top with remaining pie crust. Seal and crimp edges, cut 2-4 slits in top of pie. Bake at 375 for 40-60 minutes until crust is nice and brown.

Trader Joe's Favorites

Well, its Thursday morning and I actually have a moment to myself. My oldest is at preschool and my youngest is napping - I feel almost human, freshly showered, sipping my coffee, without any small people trying to climb my chair or demanding a snack 15 minutes after breakfast has ended.

Anyway, if you haven't figured it out already, I'm a huge fan of Trader Joe's. When we moved out here to Cali last year and before I had any friends, my weekly grocery shopping trip at TJ's was probably the highlight of the week. Now I have friends and a routine and a second child, and shopping there usually involves taking the baby in the backpack, the toddler in the cart, and an arsenal of snacks. Nevertheless, I still enjoy shopping there, trying new products, dreaming up ways to cook with their products, and of course, eating their food.

Here is my list of Trader Joe's favorites by section:

-Produce section: Goddess Dressing. When we have this salad dressing in the fridge, I pretty much find any and every excuse to have a salad. I've also mixed a little bit into pasta sauce (per TJ's suggestion) and its amazing. Also good on sandwiches or as a dip.

-Sauce section: Red Curry sauce, Punjab sauce (both are great with a bag of their frozen veggies served over brown rice)

-Prepared Foods/Deli/Cheese section: Potroast, Pork Carnitas, Any of their pizza doughs, Chimichurri Sauce

-Frozen foods: Mandarin Chicken (chicken pieces with yummy chinese orange sauce), Balsamic Vegetables

-Bread section: Flat bread, whole wheat tortillas, focaccia buns

Anyway, I'll post some of my recipes soon!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

here i am

I love food and cooking. I love to eat and cook and shop at Trader Joe's and dream up yummy dinners that don't take a lot of work or time. Today, though, on this special day of my first blog posting, I reached an all time low of scary lunches. Started with pita and hummus (so far so good), then some spagghettio-s (leftovers, needed to be eaten or thrown out, and somebody had to do it), a diet coke, and 3 handfuls of m&m's. Aaaah, yes, I am soo gourmet! More riveting tales of great meals to follow...