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November 18, 2007

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Favorite Trader Joes Item # 18: Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

tj's tomato & roasted red pepper soup

I found out about this soup from a coworker/friend. We used to drink it in the coffee mugs at work. We just poured it right into a mug and nuked it. Bingo! Presto! Done!

These days I try to keep at least one of these containers in my pantry. They are very handy when it’s a Saturday afternoon and you don’t feel like spending money to go out to eat…but you want something really tasty and fast.

Sometimes I heat the soup up in a large pot. I add cayenne pepper and basil leaves. I like to jazz it up and make it spicy. It’s also really good with cheddar cheese bits mixed in.

Yesterday I decided to pour some in a bowl to heat up.

sooo goood

I added a bit of creme fraiche on top with a little sprinkling of basil:

all up in

Snuggled up on the couch, watching recorded episodes of the Martha Stewart show….with my soup…
it's what's for lunch

A good Saturday it was.

This soup is great when you pair it up with a grilled cheese sandwich. A year ago, I was having a dinner party and I convinced myself that I had enough pasta sauce for my dish. DOH! I ran out…. and I didn’t have ANY more canned tomatoes in my pantry. I added half of the container and BAM! I had more sauce. It saved my behind. How was I supposed to leave my party and buy more sauce?

I think I might just have some for lunch today too.

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November 17, 2007

Sun Dried Tomato Goat Cheese Appetizer

Favorite Appetizer from Trader Joe’s Items:

Goat Cheese with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Basil & Pine Nuts

The magic makers:

Take the goat cheese out of it’s packaging and put it on your party plate.

Chop up the Trader Joe’s Sun Dried Roma Tomatoes. Pour on top of the goat cheese log. A little bit of the oil from the tomatoes makes it soooo yummy & flavorful.

Top with pine nuts and sprinkles of chopped basil. Add some salt & pepper.

And then you have a wonderful appetizer. It’s just soo easy & convenient!

It works well with sliced up crostini or crackers. This went really fast last night! If by chance you have leftovers, toss it all in a food processor and you have a tasty pink goat cheese spread. It’s a great way to recycle a good thing.

Here’s your shopping list:

  • 1 log of goat cheese
  • 1 jar of sun-dried roma tomatoes
  • 1 handful of pine nuts
  • a small handful of chopped up basil
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November 16, 2007

The Greek Feast

Favorite Meal from Trader Joe’s Items: The Greek Feast

Start with Trader Joe’s Garlic Sausage.

Take them out of their casings and form into meatballs. Put on skewers & grill:

grilled meatballs

Grill some flatbread while you’re at it! Make sure to rub some olive oil on top before you place them on the heat:

flatbread

Buy some of their wonderfully fresh and light tzatziki dip & put it in a bowl:

tzatziki

Remember that delish hummus I was talking about? Grab some and put that in a bowl too! Cut up some lemons for your guests. Take some marinated artichokes out of the jar & place in another bowl…..

hummus, chokes, lemon & tzatziki

Put one of their bagged romaine lettuce salads in a salad bowl. Add some of their cherry tomatoes, red onion slices & crumbled feta. Take some lemon & olive oil and make yourself a healthy dressing. Roast fingerling potatoes in oven & squeeze lemon on top:

salad & stuff

And now you can be proud to present…..

A Wonderful Greek Meal with the help of Trader Joe’s:

dinner time!

Here’s your grocery list:

  • 1 package of Garlic sausage
  • 1 bag romaine lettuce
  • 1 container of crumbled feta
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • flatbread (the more the merrier)
  • 1 jar of marinated artichokes
  • lemons (make sure you have some olive oil for the dressing)
  • 1 container of tzatziki dip
  • 1 container of hummus
  • 1 bag of fingerling potatoes
  • 1 package of cherry tomatoes
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November 15, 2007

Oat N’ Wheat Bran Swirls

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #15: Oat N’ Wheat Bran Swirls

oat n' wheat bran..... SO effing good

I know.. I know… your thinking “BRAN??!!! ICK!!!” Seriously, this is some good stuff. Take the top of a perfect apple crumble and make a cereal out of it. THEN put your little cereal bites into perfect little swirls. THEN package it up and sell it for less than $3!!

get into my tummy

We put some leftover pumpkin cream cheese frosting in between two swirls the other night. I did not take pictures to document the combo because I don’t want to admit how many I had.

I put them in yogurt…I eat them plain…I love them…

I’m so glad I found you, Oat N’ Wheat Bran Swirls. You are my new best friend.

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November 14, 2007

Ginger Tea

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #14: Ginger

frech ginger

Yup…simple ginger.

One of the most common uses for ginger in my kitchen is Ginger Tea. It’s perfect for this time of year. Especially during the cold season when you need some throat comfort, and your dying for something to warm you up!

ingredients for ginger tea

Cut up a knob of ginger (the more you use…the spicier it will be). I used a 3 inch piece in this batch. Add some honey and cloves. The amount really depends on you. I’d skimp on the honey at first and then add more later.

Put it all in a pot and cover with water. This batch made about 4 cups.

in the pot you go

Simmer over the stove for awhile. The longer you let it sit, the stronger it gets. There’s really no science to it. Just taste as you go. If it’s too strong, add some more honey. (I’d leave it going for a good 20 minutes)

And then you have the perfect cup of ginger tea. Perfect at any time of day. Perfect way to awaken your senses and wake you up without the harsh effects of caffeine.

tada!  ginger tea

Sometimes I save the extra tea and chill it. It’s great mixed with club soda & some lemonade. I’ve made a cocktail with it by adding cranberry, fresh lime and vodka. How could that not be good?

Or add some apple juice in the mixture and heat it up. It will make your house smell wonderful.

Either way, I hope you enjoy!

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November 13, 2007

Gingerbread Cake Mix

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #12: Gingerbread Cake Mix

The combo of these four main ingredients

the inspiration how i make my cream cheese frosting uncrystallized candied ginger

made these wonderfully scrumptious babies (Gingerbread Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting)

all pretty gingery

I had to make cupcakes for a dinner party this Saturday. I figured I’d whip out some cupcakes with the box of Gingerbread cake mix I recently bought from Trader Joe’s. The directions on the box did not specify how long the baking time would be for cupcakes. I started with 15 minutes and worked my way up from there. I think the total baking time was in the 25 minute range.

Here they are fresh out of the oven. The mix made only 10 of them. Fortunately that was 4 more than I needed to bring:

fresh outta the oven

While I was making my cream cheese frosting I got the idea to put pumpkin butter in the mix. That cute little jar was sitting there on my counter teasing me to use it. So I thought— why not??? I ended up putting like 5 heaping tablespoons in total. I had to add some pumpkin spice mix just cuz I’m waaaaay into spice. It is that time of year after all.

I think seeing bits of cinnamon and nutmeg is actually pretty. Kinda reminds me of vanilla bean specks:

pumpkin cream cheese frosting

Here’s my work in progress:

i make such a mess

Because the pumpkin butter thinned the frosting out a bit, I had to play around with the powdered sugar level to make it thicker. I had every intention to write how many cups I used, but the shear stress of trying not to get powdered sugar everywhere distracted me.

I ended up having frosting that was slightly runny, but it made for a neat effect. I probably should have chilled it*slightly* before I frosted the cupcakes.

reminds me of a shell

For the final touch, I topped them with the uncrystallized ginger……

gingerbread cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting

They packed TONS of flavor šŸ™‚ I’ll definitely make them again. Perhaps next time I’ll fill them with the pumpkin butter and just have plain cream cheese frosting……I still have some frosting left!!

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November 12, 2007

Hummus Dip & Pita Chips

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item Combo #12: Hummus Dip & Pita Chips (and some carrots too!)

tjs hummus dip + pita pita pita = mmmmm

Every week when I’m shopping at Trader Joe’s, I always remember to buy some of their hummus dip. It’s a simple snack to whip up and not to bad for you as well! I think that it’s also great for last minute get-togethers & unexpected guests. Having a staple like this in your fridge means you can serve someone a delicious snack instantly. Always make sure you have some pita chips on hand too. Carrots & Tortilla chips are great with hummus too.

To jazz it up a little, I pour a little olive oil and sprinkle some smoked paprika on top:

dear hummus

Trader Joe’s pita chips are highly addictive though- just a little warning:

up close in pita chip land

So that’s why I try to balance it out and put some carrots on my plate:

saturday lunch

Red peppers, celery stalks, cucumber slices & cherry tomatoes are some of the other veggies I like dipping in the hummus. You can add cayenne pepper to the hummus to make it spicier (or just buy their spicy hummus dip). They have a lot of great flavors that won’t break the bank!

When you don’t have much time to put together an elaborate lunch for work, this will do just fine!