Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trader Joe's Loot and Sauteed Bok Choy and Broccoli

Trader Joe's loot

Our opening day visit to the first Trader Joe's in Texas was exciting and crazy! After trying to wind our way through the aisles that were lined with people cued up to check out, I stuck Mom in a line and then made repeated trips around the store to grab stuff and bring it back and put in the basket. This was the best plan we could have come up with. We made it in and out in about an hour. We were even lucky enough to get a parking spot in their tiny lot. People were parking blocks away! I was able to get about half the items I had on my list, and considering I had to ask people to part like the Red Sea in order to pluck items from the shelf, I called it a success. Of course one of the things I just had to grab was the infamous Mandarin Orange Chicken. And then I had to come up with something to have on the side. That's where the rest of the post title comes in.

I've been wanting to try bok choy lately. I know, let's not discuss how long the list of veggies I haven't tried is, okay. Just know that I'm working on it. Anyway, I came across this Martha Stewart recipe and it seemed like the perfect thing. Josh loves soy sauce and broccoli, so I knew that he would like it. I omitted the ginger from the recipe, partly out of laziness, and partly....okay it was all laziness. Other than that everything went into the skillet and out came a great compliment to the chicken. And of course, TJ's Orange Chicken got two big thumbs up from us. I love that there are two sauce pouches in the bag. For a household of two, that let's us get two meals out of one bag. I also made up a quick batch of rice. Wanted it to be brown rice, then realized I barely had any in the pantry. Oh well!

Sauteed Bok Choy and Broccoli
Recipe from Martha Stewart; Serves 4
Sautéed Broccoli & Bok Choy w/ Mandarin Orange Chicken

1 pound bok choy
1 pound broccoli
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Cut white stalks from bok choy; slice into 1-inch pieces. Coarsely chop green leaves.
  • Peel stalks from broccoli; slice 1/4 inch thick. Cut florets into bite-size pieces.
  • In a large skillet, boil 1/2 cup water. Add bok choy stalks and broccoli; cover. Simmer over medium-low until broccoli is bright green, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover; cook on high until water evaporates, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Add bok choy leaves, oil, and garlic. Cook, tossing often, until garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes.
  • Press ginger in a sieve over skillet to release juices. Stir in soy sauce. 
My notes: Unrelated to this recipe, but do yourself a favor and buy some Falafel Chips. They are the new love of our household!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Trader Joe's Prepwork

I'm not gonna bother to do another "I'm back" post here. These days I just have to come and go as I please, and the going is lasting longer and longer. I'm cooking, I just don't have the time and energy to photograph, edit the photos, and write the blog posts.

However, I figured I had an important duty to my fellow Fort Worth friends. In just 9 short days our very first, very own Trader Joe's will be opening. As a long time food blog reader I have long been envious when I would see them using fantastic TJ products that I just couldn't get my hands on. I would read wonderful reviews of frozen goodies, cookies, marinades, and sauces, and all I could do was longingly sigh. Well, soon we sigh no more fellow Cowtown residents!

The past few weeks I've been spending some of my excessive online time looking around for Trader Joe's product recommendations. I thought I'd share some of what I've discovered here so we're not all blindly wandering into our new TJ's without at least a few items to keep our peepers peeled for.

First off, here are a couple of great lists of favorite Trader Joe products from a few trusted food bloggers:

Be sure to check the comments on those pages, because readers shared their favorites there as well. So, what am I going to be looking to check off my list on my inaugural TJ shopping trip? Here are a few things I'm hoping our new Trader Joe's will have in stock when they open their doors.
  • Frozen breaded eggplant patties
  • Packaged pre-cut Kale
  • Frozen Indian meals for Josh
  • Greek olive goat cheese
  • Frozen croissants and chocolate croissants
  • Jalapeno hummus
  • "Two Buck Chuck" (Note: I think it's more like three bucks these days, ha)
  • Falafel Chips
  • Heat & eat falafel
  • Soy chorizo
  • Vegetable pakoras
  • Dark chocolate covered peanut butter wafers
  • Frozen potato pancakes
  • Soyaki marinade
  • Frozen mandarin orange chicken
  • Toilet paper
Yes, I said toilet paper. According to the National Resources Defense Council Trader Joe's 100% recycled toilet paper is a recommended product, and I hear the price might even be better than what I've been paying for non-recycled tissue.

I'll see you guys in aisles soon!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'm Baklava!

I mean, I'm back! I haven't had a much better excuse for not blogging than laziness. School and work keeps me busy. If you ever stop by my personal blog, you know that my boss died a few days after Thanksgiving. I'm still working at the office for now, while we try to wrap things up with his wife. I got a new part time job, blogging for a local furniture company (visit us over here). And, funnily enough, I've been cooking up a storm. I hosted my family for Thanksgiving this year. Pinterest has provided a plethora of recipes to try, too. So, rather than let this little space of cyberstuff that I've cobbled together over the years flitter away, I decided I better get back to sharing the bits and bobs that I've been making in the kitchen. Probably won't be all that often, but a little is better than nothing, right?

This morning I made these yummy Baklava Muffins. I found the recipe through Pinterest, but it's from one of my old blog reads, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. I needed to use up some buttermilk I bought earlier in the week, and I had leftover chopped walnuts from a cheeseball I made for the holidays. This recipe was an ideal use for both of those ingredients. These turned out deliciously. Definitely be sure to not over mix the batter, because these come out so light with such a delicate crumb thanks to a gentle hand.

Baklava Muffins
Recipe from Nigella Lawson via Culinary Concoctions By Peabody, Makes 1 dozen
Baklava Muffin
for the filling:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons melted butter

for the muffins:
1 cup plus 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

for the topping:
1/2 cup honey

  • Preheat to 400F.
  • Mix all the filling ingredients together in a small bowl, and then start the muffins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. In a wide-mouthed measuring cup, whisk the egg, melted butter, and buttermilk. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid, and mix lightly and gently, remembering to keep it lumpy rather then going all-out for smooth: anything more than the gentlest handling makes for a heavy muffin.
  • Fill the muffin cups 1/3 full, add scant TBSP of filling, then cover with more muffin mixture until 2/3 full. Sprinkle any remaining filling on top of the muffin
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Put the muffins, still in their paper cups, onto a rack and drizzle with honey.
My notes: I made sure to keep whisking as I slowly added the melted butter to the buttermilk and egg, and even as I slowly poured it into dry ingredients I kept the whisk moving. It helped to make sure it actually got incorporated well, instead of just clumping up in the colder milk.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spicy Roasted Broccoli & Shrimp

Sorry for the long blog hiatus, and I wish I could say that I'm ready to be back posting regularly, but I'm not. I will definitely try to post when I can, though. Things have been hectic this summer, and I'm sure they're about to get more busy as I start my Fall semester next week. Also, shortly after my last blog post our oven tried to burn the house down. So, I'm currently without an oven, AKA my favorite way of cooking. I can't begin to tell you how sad it is to not be able to just quickly toss some veggies in to roast. Sigh. The only upside is now I have a good excuse to get the double oven I've long desired. But it'll be awhile before I can afford the oven and before Josh's uncle, Gary, will be able to install it. Sadly, no oven also means it'll be awhile before I can make this recipe again. Josh and I both really, really liked this dish. It tasted fantastic and can we just discuss how quick it is? Especially since I used some of the ever present frozen pre-cooked shrimp I had in the freezer, and pre-cut broccoli. I just adjusted the cooking time slightly to account for not having raw shrimp. Man. I'm starting to get depressed just thinking about not being able to whip this up tonight, so I better just get to the recipe already. This is another dinner that I stumbled across on Pinterest, from Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

Spicy Roasted Broccoli & Shrimp
Recipe from Everybody Likes Sandwiches; Serves 2
Spicy Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp
2 large heads of broccoli
4 T olive oil
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t chili flakes
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
20 large raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
zest from 1 lemon + remaining lemon cut into quarters

  • Preheat oven to 425F.
  • In a large bowl combine the broccoli with 2 tablespoons of oil, cumin, coriander, 1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, mix together the shrimp with the remaining chili flakes, salt and pepper, olive oil and all the lemon zest.
  • Add the broccoli onto a prepared cookie sheet, lined with either parchment paper, in one layer and roast for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 10 minutes more – tossing once at the midway mark. When the broccoli is golden and crispy and the shrimp is opaque, remove from oven. Serve over rice and squeeze with lemon juice.
I used one bag of the pre-cut broccoli and 2 servings, per the bag's measurements, of pre-cooked shrimp. Instead of putting the shrimp in for 10 minutes I added them after the last tossing, so they cooked for 5. At 425 degrees, that was plenty to warm them through. So delicious and so quick!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Peanut-Banana Espresso Smoothie

This week I'm back with another recipe I discovered via Pinterest. This is a smoothie from Martha Stewart that had somehow escaped my notice until we crossed paths on Pinterest. I gave it a shot one weekend morning when Josh was out of town. I didn't want to make coffee for one, but I definitely still needed to get a caffeine wake-up call. I thought this might be just the time to try this espresso laced sip. I whipped up a half-batch in my blender, as this recipe serves 2 and as I mentioned I was sipping solo that morning. This is certainly not low on calories, what with the peanut butter, but with the addition of the banana and milk it's full of protein that kept me full and gave me plenty of energy. I used soy milk for my version, since that's what we keep around the house. I figure after that substitution that this hits the mark around 280 calories, which is just under my typical breakfast count so not too shabby on the whole. The espresso definitely provided the perk I was looking for. And on top of everything I've gone on and on about- it tastes great! The combined smooth and creamy flavors of banana, peanut butter, and the rich, almost chocolatey espresso are delicious together. This is a great alternative to the typical fruity-sweet smoothies, and can step in for your coffee and your cereal all in one!

Peanut-Banana Espresso Smoothie
Adapted from Martha Stewart; Recipe serves 2
Peanut-Banana Espresso Smoothie

1 cup plain soy milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1 ripe banana, cut into thirds
1 cup ice
  • Blend soy milk, espresso powder, peanut butter, banana, and ice. Enjoy!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I've been shopping at a newer store in the area, Sprouts. They have great produce prices and since we started shopping there I've been trying to make the most of it. One of my favorite items were the bright, colorful bell peppers. I've gotten them for as little as 50 cents, so why wouldn't I go in search for more recipes to use this great, healthy resource? Of course, the first thing I thought of was Stuffed Peppers, but I wasn't interested in the typical sausage/meat filling. I turned to Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Suppers and found just what I was looking for. This recipe turned out.... pretty good. I actually ended up not enjoying the pepper part that much. The filling however, it was fabulous. I'm definitely going to make the filling again. It'd make for a great grain-salad dinner. I'm craving it now just thinking about it.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Recipe from Deborah Madison; Serves 4
Stuffed Peppers
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well several times
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of scallions, including 2 inches of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds
2 jalapeño chiles, finely diced, seeded if desired
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups, more or less, fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 3 ears corn)
1 bunch of spinach, leaves only, or 1/2 pound spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 pound feta cheese, cut into small cubes
2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup Riesling or other aromatic white wine
4 yellow and/or orange bell peppers

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, then the quinoa. Give it a stir, then cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender and reveal their spiraled germ, about 15 minutes.
  • Warm half the oil in a wide skillet. Add the scallions and chiles, cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic, cumin, corn and spinach, along with 2 tablespoons water. When the spinach is wilted, add the cilantro, quinoa and feta. Toss everything together, taste for salt, and season with pepper.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a wide skillet. When hot, add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until they start to brown around the edges, after several minutes. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, giving the onions a stir as you do so. Season with salt and pepper and distribute in a baking dish (or two) large enough to hold the peppers.
  • Slice the peppers in half lengthwise without removing the tops or stems, then cut out the membranes and seeds. Simmer them in salted water until tender to the touch of a knife but not overly soft, 4 to 5 minutes, and remove. Fill them with the quinoa mixture and set them in the baking dish(es).
  • Preheat the oven to 400° F. Drizzle the rest of the oil over the peppers and bake the peppers until heated through, 20 to 30 minutes, then switch the heat to broil and brown the tops. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
My notes: I skipped the whole onion/wine part. Maybe I would have enjoyed the peppers themselves if they had been cooked on top of a bed of glazey, winey, onions. But whatevs, I was making this on a weeknight and something had to go to make this a viable dinner option. And I halved this recipe so it made just enough for the two of us. I highly recommend giving it a shot, especially the filling. Mmmmmm.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Favorite Things

Totally forgot to share that Molly at A Few of My Favorite Things was kind enough to share a few of MY favorite things a couple Fridays back. Click here if you'd like to take a peek! Thanks Molly!

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