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!

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 🙂 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!!

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!

November 11, 2007

European Style Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt

Favorite Trader Joes Item#11 : European Style Plain Yogurt

mmmmmm yogurt

I’ve tried almost all of Trader Joe’s plain yogurts. I love their Total Greek yogurt (it’s so thick & creamy-and authentic!). This past week, I tried their European Style Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. I’m happy to report that it’s wonderful.  It’s very creamy and smooth.

I like to add their sliced almonds & raisins to mine. Top it off with some honey and you have a good breakfast/snack. It’s so good that I will sometimes make a dinner out of it. Oh! You should try putting a couple spoonfuls of pumpkin butter in! Oh lord….

how i like to eat it

I’ve used their yogurt in place of sour cream….I made a veggie dip with it….I’ve substituted it for buttermilk in baking recipes…. It’s been a very versatile staple in my fridge. And because of this, I haven’t bought a flavored/sweetened yogurt in years.

tj's european style plain yogurt

November 10, 2007

Salt & Pepper Grinders

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item # 10: Sea Salt Crystal Grinder& Black Peppercorn Grinder (aka-Salt & Pepper) (sold separately)

full body shot

When my husband & I were playing around with our wedding registry in early 2005, we could not agree on a good Salt & Peppermill. Because he felt so strongly about a particular one, I gave in and let him put it on the list. What do I really know about peppermills anyway? I know that I like fresh ground pepper-but that’s pretty much it. Fast forward to our wedding—no one fulfilled our Salt & Peppermill order *sniff sniff* Since I’m not the type to spend $40+ on an item that grinds pepper, these little babies have really come in handy!

I think they price at $2.00 or less. Here’s what the result they produce:

the results
I’ll admit that they might not be pretty enough to be set on the table for a fancy dinner party. In the kitchen next to my stove is the perfect home for them. If I had the nice stainless steel ones, I’d be very anal-retentive with the marks my messy cooking hands would make on them.

Maybe one day we’ll get those grinders… So I will have something to put on the table for fancy schmancy dinners!

But for now…these will suffice!

Learn these labels, my friend:

closeup of the labels

November 9, 2007

Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item#9 : Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels (salted)

peanut butter filled pretzels

This really needs no explanation. Peanut Butter + Pretzels = a match made in heaven.

Buy a bag. Hoard them. You can try sharing…but I understand if you don’t. They are just that good! Sometimes I like to eat all the pretzel parts and save the peanut butter fillings. Then I have pile of little peanut butter nuggets and I eat them one at a time….savoring the peanut-buttery goodness. Woah. I can’t believe I just admitted that. Anyways…you’ll love them. How could you not?
get your own

Happy Friday!

November 8, 2007

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #8: Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix

So Tuesday night I was trying to figure out what a Trader Joe’s product was called, and I ended up finding this website thru Google: www.traderjoesfan.com

After spending a short amount of time searching through the recipes, I found this one for Chewy Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread. I read the recipe and got excited because I had all the exact ingredients in my pantry. Don’t you just love when that happens? It’s like the stars aligned just for me. And I thanked those stars by whipping out something delicious from my oven.

Two of the main ingredients needed from Trader Joe’s are:

A box of Pumpkin Spiced Bread & Muffin Mix:

trader joe's pumpkin bread & muffin mix

A can of pumpkin puree (only 1 cup is needed though):

organic pureed pumpkin

Here’s the work in progress:

mixing the oatmeal in

I immediately whipped it out and tada!! The only part that takes awhile is the baking time. I guarantee that it will make your house smell like Thanksgiving!

I’ve had it for breakfast the past two mornings. The oatmeal makes it a very hearty bread with a nice crunchy/chewy crust. I think tomorrow I might toast a slice, put some cream cheese on top and then a dollop of my Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter. Wait- maybe I’ll do that tonight?

Here’s their recipe in case you don’t feel like moving

Chewy Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Organic Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar (you might want a bit more)
  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins (i made my 1/4 cup a HEAPING 1/4 cup)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, oil, eggs & pumpkin puree. Stir in the Pumpkin Bread mix. Add the oats & raisins. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour & 15 minutes. You might want to cover the top with foil (I did this when there was 30 minutes left) to prevent the top from burning.