November 26, 2007

Make-shift Eggplant Parmesan

Favorite Trader Joe’s Concoction: Make-shift Eggplant Parmesan

Here’s Your Ingredient List— Add Basil! It’s not pictured here.

Frozen Eggplant Cutlets:

eggplant cutlets

Parmesan & Roman Grated Cheese Blend:

parmesan & romano grated cheese blend

Italian Tomato Starter Sauce:

italian tomato starter sauce

Yesterday I needed something quick for lunch because I had to get back to watching my Tivo & surfing the internet. It was a Holiday weekend after all! I ran into the kitchen and put these two eggplant cutlets on a baking sheet & into the oven they went:

two eggplant cutlets from the oven

I broke out some of the Trader Joe’ Italian Tomato Starter Sauce. Yesterday was the first time I tried it— It was pretty darn good.


And then I took out some of the grated Parmesan & Romano Cheese Blend- Because everything goes better with Parmesan in my opinion…

parm makes everything betta

Added that all together and here we are! A nice little lunch:

sunday lunch- makeshift eggplant parm

It could not be any easier than that! I didn’t even have to leave the house because all these items were tucked away in my fridge & on my pantry shelf.

Now, if you make this- put some freshly chopped basil on top. It’s screaming for some!

November 25, 2007

Apple Turnovers

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #25: Puff Pastry

tj's puff pastry

I spent the first half hour after I woke up staring at this post from Ugly Green Chair. If only I could have reached right into my computer and taken a bite! While the husband was sleeping, I decided to wake him up with the perfumey smells of apple turnovers being baked in our kitchen. Thanks for the inspiration Whitney!

I chopped up three apples into little bits:

i'm gonna use you cutting up the apples to make the filling

I sauteed them in a tablespoon of butter, a few dashes of cinnamon, a bit fresh squeezed orange juice and a little bit of sugar:

apple filling

I took the puff pastry sheets out of the freezer, and let them sit on the counter for about 10 minutes so I could pull apart 1 sheet to make 4 turnovers. After the chill was gone, I cut one sheet into 4 little squares and spread some egg wash (just 1 egg beaten) on top of each little square.

egg wash on top

I put a little dollop of the apples in the center:

adding the filling

I folded over the sides and scrunched it over with my fingers.

I added some more egg wash on top & cut a little hole at the top so it wouldn’t explode in the oven.

egg washed

I put them in the oven on a cookie sheet line with parchment and baked them for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Here they are after those 15 minutes. I was so anxious to try one- it felt like half a lifetime.

4 little maids

There’s nothing better than the promise of some delicious pastry. Don’t you agree?

i'll take the one in front please

Look at that filling seep out!


Notice the buttery layers? I added a little sprinkling of sugar on top:

from the side

And here we have my breakfast this morning:

sunday morning breakfast

I’m so glad that Trader Joe’s sells Puff Pastry! It was so easy to make a wonderful breakfast this morning out of things that I already had in the kitchen!

November 24, 2007

Dried Fruit Bars

Favorite Trader Joes Item #24: Dried Fruit Bars

taste the rainbow

Because I’m always hungry (it’s the Italian in me) I have to carry around little snacks in my bag.  If I don’t have a little snack in between meals, I tend to OVER-eat at the next meal.  My grandma says that you know you’re Italian when you are eating breakfast, and you’re thinking about what you’ll eat at Lunch and Dinner that day.  It’s true. I do that!

fav fruit leathers

So, I always make sure I have a few of these dried fruit bars with me. I stash some in my desk at work too! They are incredibly easy & tasty.  They make a perfect snack and help keep you energized.  The passion fruit flavor is actually my #1 favorite.  There’s little bits of passion fruit seeds in them.  Love that crunch!

They are about 45 cents each.  Totally worth every penny!

November 23, 2007

Chipotle Ranch Fries

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #23: Chipotle Ranch Fries

chipotle ranch fries

The other night I came home from work and craved a hearty meal. The cold weather mixed with the chaotic day battling spreadsheets warranted something REALLY comforting. I decided to make Casey & I a steak with fries and a salad.

One of my friends told me about these Chipotle fries a few weeks ago- so I HAD to pick some up. Don’t be turned off by the Chipotle- it comes in a package that you can use/not use if you feel the inclination.

I put the fries on a baking sheet lined with foil & cooking spray (because I don’t like having to spend a lot of time cleaning my baking sheets!)

in the oven to crisp you

I heated up the Chipotle sauce by soaking the package in HOT water. The directions recommend dumping the entire packet all over the fries, but I’m just not that into soggy fries. Who wants to eat soggy fries with a fork? Not this girl!

the chipotle dip you have to defrost

The sauce is pretty good by the way. It’s like a tangy BBQ sauce.

Here are the golden babies after I took them out of the oven:

i could eat this whole plate


i'll take you, you you and YOU
I have to say that they were delicious! They tasted a lot like Burger King fries–but substantially larger. I would keep these in my freezer all the time….but due to my carb addiction, I will restrain myself from stocking up! I can never be trusted near french fries. I clearly do not have THAT much discipline.

The all-around comforting meal. Everything on the plate came from Trader Joes:

my plate

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

today was a good day…..

mom's table table settings thanksgiving thanksgiving centerpiece the yam dish i made i love grandma's beans the spread my plate use that spoon, and dig right in. pumpkin tiramisu i made

I hope that when look at these pictures tomorrow, I will still be hungry. I’m soo stuffed! Hope your holiday was yummy!

I made this pumpkin tiramisu for dessert. It was a hit! I substituted crushed up ginger snaps for amaretto cookies for the topping. I highly recommend!

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?