November 22, 2007

Vanilla Cake Mix

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #22: Vanilla Cake Mix

vanilla cake & baking mix

So, last weekend I decided to make a coffee cake out of this mix. It was a Sunday, and I was aching to bake the second I woke up. The sun was out and I wanted something warm and nutty to go with my coffee. This cake mix is extremely versatile by the way!

I followed the directions on the box (add an egg, some milk & a melted stick of butter). Here’s an extreme closeup. Notice the vanilla beans?

hello vanilla beans

To make the topping, I combined a heaping 1/2 cup of brown sugar with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Then I added some Trader Joe’s chopped pecans to that & mixed it all up in a small bowl. I poured the cake into a greased (9×9) brownie pan. Then I topped the cake with the brown sugar/pecan mixture. I baked it in the oven for the required time- checked with a toothpick to make sure it was done. Watched out for burning bits!

I noticed that even though I spread the topping on the entire cake, the edges came up while baking and brought some of the topping towards the center. Don’t fear, the edges were still pretty darn good!

Here’s the little baby fresh outta the oven:

fresh outta the oven

Extreme closeup of my favorite crunchy/sugary combo:

my favorite thing

Witness my first piece:

taking the first bite

And yes, I did save some for my husband :

almost done!

If you make this, you will have a deliciously moist cake with a nice crunchy topping.  I’m pleased to tell you that it gets better on the second day! It’s not as moist, but it’s easier to dunk into your cup of coffee.  That’s why it’s coffee cake!

I hope that this cake fills your house with a warm cinnamon vanilla aura. I’m dreaming of a piece right now……


November 21, 2007

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #21: Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s (seasonal for obvious reasons)

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

Last night was the first time I tried these. I’m now totally hooked. They taste like Oreos infused with Peppermint Patties!!! Every now and then you get a little crunch from a candy cane bit. Oh dear GOD!

So many beauties waiting to be devoured…..

yes i'll take the middle row please

One of the things I love most about Trader Joe’s is that they have these really cool/fun/seasonal items like these cookies that I can’t help but try. Because their prices are so reasonable, I can just buy an *adventurous* item on a whim and not feel regret for spending too much money. When an item like this turns out to be fabulous, the price always becomes a shock! This whole box was less than $3.

I don’t mind if I do…

i'll just help myself

Eat them plain- or crush them up and top them on ice cream. Is it bad to have cookies this early in the morning?

November 20, 2007

5 random things about me:

today i’ve been tagged by Jen.

Here are five weird/ random things about me:

1. I have a squeezing problem. I like squeezing things a little too much. I have to watch out when I’m in stores because I’ve been known to ruin bags of hot dog buns. I’ve broken a few hollowed chocolate Easter Bunnies & Santas….

2. I’m the first girl in 3 generations on my dad’s side of the family.

3. One of my favorite things in the world is diving into a fresh container of peanut butter with a spoon.

4. I have over 25 striped shirts in my closet. (i’m wearing one right now)

5. Watching people trip makes me laugh.

November 20, 2007

Cinnamon Almonds

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #20: Cinnamon Almonds

If you have a thing for almonds-buy these.

cinnamon almonds

If you have a thing for snickerdoodle cookies-buy these.

cinnamon almonds

If you have a sweet-tooth and want something that’s portable and addictive-buy these.

cinnamon almonds

If you think you might not be able to stop at one handful, then make sure you have another bag.

Just read the bag. It’s an irresistible snack!

November 19, 2007

Banana Crisps

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #19: Banana Crisps

banana crisps: just a little bit sweet

These banana chips are delightfully thin & crisp. I’ve eaten many banana chips in my day and am always shocked to see how many calories/grams of fat they contain. These are a lot less than most banana chips.


It’s the fact that they’re *crisps* that are lightly sweetened that make them better for you.

pandas love banana crisps too

They are very tasty! You won’t feel AS guilty if you eat the whole bag. I’ve been there…..I swear.

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.

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