November 7, 2007

Sausage Soup with Spinach & Beans

Favorite Trader Joes Item #7: Sweet Italian Sausage (or any of their sausages for that matter)

sweet italian sausage

Meat is usually what makes my grocery bills sooo high. This package of sausage was only $2.99 for six sausages. We got about 2 1/2 meals out of this soup between my husband and I. Not to shabby!

Here’s one of my favorite sausage soups:

sausage soup

Sausage Soup with Spinach & Beans

inspired by this recipe from Everyday Food

  • 1 package (12 ounces) sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 16oz. bag of frozen spinach from trader joe’s (item not pictured-sorry!)
  • 2 cans Trader Joe’s cannellini beans
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large pinch of red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 32oz. container of chicken stock

Place chopped onion & mashed garlic in soup pot & sautee in olive oil. Take sausage out of its casings and break off bite sized *meatballs* Add this to onion mixture. Cook sausages on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Your goal is to make sure there’s no pink left on the outside of the meat. Now add chicken stock, beans & frozen spinach. Simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes. Make sure there’s a very low boil going on. Before you serve, add the red-wine vinegar (it will give it that extra zing!). Season with salt & pepper. Enjoy.

I’m actually eating a bowl of this soup as I write this post. It’s really good for a cold autumn afternoon. I recommend making it on a Sunday afternoon while your spouse is watching football. Not only will make your house smell wonderful, you will be sneaking a heaping portion of vegetables into someone else’s diet. I like to pair it with crusty pieces of bread and butter…mmmmmmm…….. My husband & I like to save the sausage til the end. It’s the best part!

Sometimes I use the following Trader Joe’s Sausages for this recipe:

Garlic Sausage

Wine & Cheese Sausage

Hot Italian Sausage

(All of them produce a great result)

See closeup if you don’t have any meat aversion:

yummmmm inducing

November 6, 2007

Creamed Honey

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #6: Creamed Honey

trader joes creamed honey

There’s just something so magical about being able to put a knife into a tub of honey and spread it on a piece of bread.

digging in

You don’t have to tip a little honey bear over and wait for the honey to drip out. Although they are cute as hell, those little guys can be stubborn when your container is half full.

the lid is where the knife rests

You just put your knife into the sweet/creamy goodness and smooth it on top of a piece of toast.

almost reminds me of brie

So thick & creamy… you’ll think you’re smearing dulce de leche on top.

up close....creamed honey

Perfect way to spend start a Sunday morning (we did just that this past sunday!)

tell me that doesn't look good


November 5, 2007

Brown Sugar Glazed Brussels Sprouts

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #5: Brussels Sprouts

washing em up!

I never really had brussels sprouts until 4 years ago, when I ordered a chicken dish at Luna Park that had brussels sprouts & roasted butternut squash as a side. They were heavenly! It made me wonder why I had always heard such awful things about brussels sprouts. They seemed to be put on the disgusting list with things like tuna casserole (which i have yet to try). Ahh….It was love at first bite. I almost asked them for seconds! I knew had to recreate this at home! I tried some different concoctions and came up with this one.


ingredients for brussel sprouts

  • 2 bags of TJ’s Brussels Sprouts
  • 3/4 stick of butter (more if you are feeling frisky)
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped (more or less depending on your love for onion)
  • 3-5 tablespoons of brown sugar (this usually changes depending on how bitter the sprouts are)
  • 2 cloves of garlic

Take sprouts out of their packaging. Soak in water & rinse. Cut the ends off all the sprouts & quarter the sprouts. Set aside. Place 1/2 stick of butter in a pan on medium heat. Stir in onions & garlic. Cook on medium until onions are translucent. Add sprouts & toss them in the butter/onion mixture. Let sit- stir occasionally. At this point, you are working on steaming them. When the sprouts are softened (about 10 minutes), add brown sugar & remaining butter. Turn the heat to high and brown the sprouts. The brown sugar & butter help caramelize them. Put the little beauties in a dish & serve.

This dish has the power to change someone into a Brussel Sprout Lover. You’ll see……

Closeup of Packaging:

trader joes bagged brussel sprouts

A Perfect Dish for Thanksgiving:

perfect side dish

Sink your fork into it:

up close & caramelized

Try them. You’ll love theses little babies:

cut them in quarters

***note: I used three small onions for the dish above- one large one will work out fine!***

November 4, 2007

Uncrystallized Candied Ginger

Favorite Trader Joes Item #4: Uncrystallized Candied Ginger

uncrystallized candied ginger

candied ginger

I was walking around my local Trader Joe’s one day and found a whole row of Uncrystallized Candied Ginger.  I love ginger…but usually don’t like the crystallized version for some reason. I picked up the package and gave it a squeeze. I was excited to find that they felt like they’d be chewy and have the perfect bite. When I got into the car, I immediately opened them up (this is a typical occurrence). They were exactly what I’ve been looking for!! Not tooo sweet….Not toooo spicy. They were the perfect consistency! I think the crunchiness of the crystallized version is what puts me off.

I’ve used them in baking (made some pumpkin ginger muffins).

I’ve put some in my tea (it made them so plump).

I’ve introduced my coworkers to them (they love them-One coworker wants me to pick him up some!).

I’ve hoarded some in my pantry (you never know when you might need more).

after all….the package says they’re sweet & smooth…..

November 3, 2007

Granny Smith Apple Rings

They may look odd, but they sure can cure a snack craving…..

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #3: Granny Smith Apple Rings

trader joes granny smith apple rings

what's for breakfast this AM

Put some in a bag…carry around with you all day long. Devour when you are sitting in traffic. Grab a handful and watch a movie. It’s the perfect sweet fix when you’ve been eating too much chocolate lately. You won’t feel guilty because you’ll be eating more than an apple a day!

November 2, 2007

Garlic Ginger Butter

One of my biggest gripes in the kitchen is garlic skin & onion skin. I hate how it gets stuck to everything. It’s soooo hard to remove!!! I know it’s worth the effort….. but gaaaaaaahhhhh! Get it off my cutting board & fingers. And why is it stuck to my knife??? Total pet peeve of mine. Fret no more!

Drum roll please….

Favorite Trader Joe’s Item #2: Premium Peeled Garlic

sealed garlic from tjs

One of the newest additions to my Trader Joe’s cart has been their pre-wrapped garlic. This trio of garlic is tightly sealed and shares a little bag with at least 4 other trios. I wonder how they come up with three….. What if I only needed two or one? Either way, I find something else to put garlic in that day. When I made butternut squash soup the recipe called for only two cloves. I used three and it tasted great. How could one extra clove really ruin something? Maybe if you are a raw garlic eater?

ingredients to make garlic ginger toast

So here’s a recipe a good friend shared with me. It’s called garlic-ginger spread. It will cure your cold/ailment with the fighting power of garlic and ginger. You might also have the taste of garlic in your mouth for awhile, but believe me it’s worth it.

How to make it:

  • Melt 1 stick of salted butter
  • Grate a large knob of ginger (at least 3 inches)
  • Chop & mince 6 cloves of garlic (just 2 packages of the tjs kind!)
  • Stir in some Sriracha sauce (about 2-3 heaping squirts- depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • mix all together!

You can use it when the butter is melted, or when it hardens up! Works both ways.

What it Looks Like:

garlic ginger toast concoction

Many Uses:

-Spread liberally on toast- devour (this is the main way I consume it)

-Smear on top roasted chicken & let the butter melt

-Mix with eggplant & put that on top of toast!

-Toss in steamed broccoli

-Rub it inside your favorite sandwich

-Mix it in some mashed potatoes or rice

-Throw some in while you’re stir frying…..

***I made some last night because of my horrendous cough, and I’m already starting to feel better. It’s not something I feel guilty about eating because I know it will do more good than harm. ***

November 1, 2007

why i love trader joes:

So, I’ve decided to do the Nablopomo thing this year. Why? Who knows….. I think I’m up for the challenge. It might be annoying but we’ll see. If I can do this, then maybe I can lose that extra 10lbs I’ve gained since I’ve been married. I have discipline, I swear.

I digress…..In the next month I will uncover why I love Trader Joes. If you don’t have a Trader Joes in your area, I’m soooooo sorry. Write them and demand that you get one! Put it on your Christmas list maybe?? If you do have one, hopefully you will be inspired to purchase all my favorite things there. Or maybe you have a few things that you would like me to try? The fact is, you are either a TJ’s lover or a hater. Most of the hatred comes from waiting in long lines. I totally understand. I’ve been there. You just have to pick the right time of week to go, and all will be right with the world. I promise.
So in the next month you will see:

-key ingredients that make up tasty/easy dishes

-good snacky items that i love

-how to whip together a simple/easy appetizer spread for a party

-how to satisfy a spouse with a serious sweet tooth through

-tips & tricks to use while shopping at a Trader Joes

-how wonderful it is to get 4 bags of groceries and pay less than $100 for it!!

So Let’s Begin!

Favorite Item #1 :

Dark Chocolate Almonds (made with Belgian Chocolate & sprinkled with Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar)

tj's dark chocolate almonds with sea salt & turbinado sugar

These almonds are sooo wonderful. Trader Joe’s finds the perfect balance between salty & sweet. You will be amazed that this came from Trader Joes. You’d think that Jacques Torres started his own TJ’s brand…

While we were on vacation recently, I accidentally left a tub of them on my coffee table. My neighbors who were watching our cats tried sneaking an almond here or there between visits (both mother & daughter didn’t realize each other were doing it!) They ended up eating the entire tub while I was gone! Shame shame shame!!! I would have been been more mad about the situation if I did not understand the compulsion/addiction myself. They apologized profusely & replaced the tub they devoured.


***WARNING*** These almonds can be hard to find. When you do, snatch up a tub or two. It’s worth it! Just make sure you don’t leave them lying around on a coffee table. You never know what might happen!