Monday, May 26, 2014

Trader Joe's Meatless Corn Dogs

A few weeks ago I picked up Trader Joe's Meatless Corn Dogs from TJ's.  I gave up eating meat (for the most part), but it's practically summertime, and I still crave all of those summertime staples (unhealthy or not!).  The corn dog purchase was a total impulse buy, but when I threw the box in my shopping cart, I started craving a corn dog, baked beans and a glass of lemonade: the perfect, summertime dinner, as shown below:


Here are my thoughts on the Trader Joe's corn dogs.

Pros:
-They cook up quick (In a 350 degree oven, it only takes 20 minutes)
-They reheat in the microwave well, too.  I took a leftover dog to work the next day for lunch and cooked it in the microwave for one minute.  The cornbread wasn't soggy.  It was perfect.
-I love the taste of these corn dogs.  The cornbread is sweet and yummy, which complements the saltiness of the "dog."  It reminds of a corn dog, you would buy from a food truck at a fair, minus the pig parts.
-There are only 160 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per dog.  That's pretty good for an unhealthy, carnival food.

Cons:  The salt content is too high.  Why do all of these packaged foods have to be so salty???  I  wish the salt content was cut in half. 

Final Thoughts: If you are in the mood for a hot dog, then go out try these meatless dogs, instead.  They are tasty. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Trader Joe's Cilantro and Jalapeno Hummus

The other day my husband and me were eating lunch at Panera Bread.  He ordered some gross processed meat on bread, while I ordered the delicious Mediterranean veggie sandwich on tomato basil bread.  It's a sandwich filled with peppers, feta, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro hummus.  As we were sitting there enjoying our sandwiches, my husband was looking at the receipt and noted that this place was kind of pricey, considering the size of the sandwich.  I only had a half sandwich with a cup of soup and it was 8 bucks.  It's not like a veggie sandwich is that difficult to make, so I decided that I was going to recreate this sandwich myself and save some money at the same time! 
Thankfully, Trader Joe's sells cilantro and jalapeno hummus, so my mission to recreate Panera's sandwich was easy as pie. This stuff is amazing.  It's a bit spicy, but the cilantro helps cool the heat down. I have tried other brands of hummus and it tastes store bought. However, I don't get the same flavor issue with TJ's cilantro and jalapeno hummus: it tastes fresh.  I'm hooked.  You have to try this on a sandwich or with some pita chips.

My take on Panera Bread's Mediterranean veggie sandwich:

Ingredients:

2 slices of the seeduction loaf from Whole Foods or any hearty bread
1/2 red pepper, sliced
a few slices of red onion
a handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cucumber, sliced
2 or 3 Tablespoons of Trader Joe's Cilantro and Jalapeno Hummus
2 Tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese
1 Tablespoon of cilantro, chopped.

Put the two slices down on a plate and assemble an open faced sandwich with all of the ingredients above.  I find that Panera's sandwich doesn't work as a traditional sandwich because the veggies fall out, when you pick it up.  With my sandwich, you have to eat it with a fork.  So, it's more of a salad now, but that's ok with me.  I made this for lunch four times last week and it didn't cost 32 dollars to make!  Mission complete.



 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread


Every time I go to Trader Joe's, I will see jars of interesting sauces, but I don't put them in my cart because well...I don't know what to make once I bring them home.  However, my cousin texted me the other day and told me that I had to try Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread.  She served it in a pasta bake with peppers and cheese, and she loved it.  So, I had to try it.  I served the red pepper spread with oven roasted cauliflower and loved it, too!  The spread does have an intense, smoky, roasted pepper taste to it, which I love.  I think that this spread would be a perfect substitute for a condiment on a sandwich. For instance, I would spread a few tablespoons of Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread on a toasted ciabatta roll and then add some mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. That would be lunch heaven to me.  And, this spread would be perfect on top of a veggie burger, or perhaps, a hamburger...if you like that sort of thing.

The best part about this spread is that a tablespoon only has 15 calories and .5 grams of fat. How awesome is that?



Here is how I enjoyed Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread, today:

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets.
Garlic Powder (or you can use Garlic Salt)
Olive Oil Spray
3 or 4 Tablespoons Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil.  Spray the pan with a light coating of olive oil spray.  Add the cauliflower and lightly spray the cauliflower with the olive oil spray.  Add a dash of garlic powder and roast the cauliflower in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve the cauliflower with a dollop of Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread on the side. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trader Joe's Zucchini Fries

Photo courtesy of: http://m.traderjoes.com/digin/post/zucchini-fries

Over 10 years ago, I was on a date with my now husband, and he ordered an appetizer.  I can't remember all the details of this date, but I can recall it was summer and we were sitting in a booth of our favorite pub in New England, and he ordered...fried zucchini sticks. I also remember him ordering pasta and he sent the dish back to the kitchen because they put grated cheese on his meal, and it wasn't melted.   I never heard of such things before (fried zucchini sticks or refusing to eat cheese that wasn't melted), but 10 years later, I still have to order zucchini sticks if I see it on a menu, and I still shake my head every time my husband asks a waiter, "Does it have cheese on it? Is it melted?" I love fried zucchini and I love my cheese hater husband!  So, let me tell you, how excited I was when I was in Trader Joe's on Sunday, and there were zucchini fries in the frozen section. Score!

On Monday, I cooked Trader Joe's zucchini sticks as a side dish to my favorite, quick , weeknight Trader Giottos Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina dinner, and I even cooked up some frozen broccoli, too (from Trader Joe's, of course!).  Per the directions, all you have to do is cook the fries on a sheet for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven and just flip them over once.  Easy, right? Wrong.  The zucchini sticks stuck to my cookie sheet.  And the zucchini that I was able to scrape off the sheet was oily, bland, and lacked a good crunch. What a disappointment!  Two thumbs down, Joe.  Here is picture of my lovely meal, which includes the soggy, sad, little zucchini scraps:


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trader Joe's Grilled Asparagus Spears


I purchased Trader Joe's grilled asparagus spears a couple of times last year, and to be honest, I was not a fan.  The cooking instructions on the package state that you should cook these spears in the microwave.   But, cooking the grilled asparagus in the microwave, left the spears soggy and the spears wouldn't cook evenly.  Gross! But, for some reason, I decided to purchase the product again, a few weeks ago.  Well, I can guess you can blame it on my New Year's Resolution to incorporate more fruit and veggies in my lunch and dinner.  Or you can blame the picture of the asparagus on the packaging:  it looks tasty, especially if you go to Trader Joe's when you are hungry! But, this time, I decided not to listen to Joe and his awful directions.  I cooked the spears in the oven and, they were much better.  In fact, I liked it so much that I took the leftover veggies to work the next day and ate them with my veggie burger, as a side dish.  Now, if you're expecting this frozen asparagus to taste the same as if it was hot off a grill, then you will be disappointed.  However, the grilled taste is there and cooking the asparagus in a hot oven (rather than a microwave) helped to remove some of the moisture.  If you love asparagus, then I recommend buying this frozen bag from Joe and cook it in the oven.  Just pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, add the frozen asparagus to a greased cookie sheet, and add a dash of garlic-salt to the spears.  Cook for 10 minutes, and voila, the asparagus is done.  Enjoy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese Recipe


Tonight, I tried a recipe that I stumbled upon while channel surfing yesterday, and I just had to share it.  It's Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese.  Now, the recipe calls for beef broth, which I guess as a wannabe vegetarian, I should have switched out for vegetable broth.  But, well, I didn't feel like it.  This recipe was awesome and super easy.  I will make this again, for sure.  And, I will be daring and try it with vegetable broth next time.  It should be noted that I made two changes to the recipe. First, the original recipe called for 4 oz of goat cheese, but I just used a tablespoon or two: I'm not a huge fan of goat cheese.  Second, I couldn't find extra wide egg noodles at Trader Joe's.  So, I used Trader Joe's egg pappardelle pasta and that worked out great.  We loved this dish! The sauce is creamy, simple, but flavorful.  When I asked my husband if it was better than beef stroganoff, he replied, "Yes, it is. Well, actually, I don't think I ever had beef stroganoff before."  He makes me laugh.  You should try this.

Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese Recipe
Original Recipe by Alton Brown Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese
Serving Size: 4 (for a main dish)

What you need:
Trader Joe's pappardelle egg pasta
3 Tablespoons butter
2 packages of Trader Joe's portabella mushrooms, sliced
Trader Joe's green onions chopped (six or seven onions)
1 Tablespoon of flour
14 oz Trader Joe's organic beef broth
1 teaspoon of salt
8 oz Trader Joe's light sour cream
2 Tablespoons of goat cheese (leave this out if your don't like goat cheese)

Directions:
Fill a pot with cold water, add the pasta and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the water starts boiling, cook the pasta for 8 or 9 minutes (or just until al dente).  If you use another type of pasta, follow the directions on the box for al dente pasta.  But just be sure to add the pasta to the cold water and bring to a boil.  Apparently, cooking pasta this way helps the sauce stick to the noodles.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and salt.  Turn the heat up to high and sauté the mushrooms, until they are dark in color (about 8 minutes).  Add just the white part of the green onions and cook two minutes longer.

Add the flour to the mushroom/onion mixture and cook for a minute or two.  Add the beef broth, stir, and then, turn down the heat to medium.  Let cook until the liquid is reduced by half.  Then, stir in the sour cream and goat cheese. 

After you cook and drain the pasta, add the pasta to the skillet and combine.  Add the green onion tops.  Serve immediately and enjoy!



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Trader Giotto's Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

 
 
Trader Giotto's Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina has become one of my favorite frozen meals at Trader Joe's.  I have purchased this item three times in the past couple of months, which says a lot.  There are three servings in a bag, but one serving is much too small if you plan on making this as a main course.  During the busy work week, my husband and me split this for dinner.  We usually serve zucchini or broccoli on the side for a well balanced meal. 
 
Pros:
-This meal cooks up quick.  You can have dinner made in 7 minutes.  Seriously. 
-The gnocchi is tasty.  The little nuggets are soft and fluffy like little pillows of flavor in your mouth.
-The tomato sauce is yummy.  It tastes fresh and not like something that you just defrosted out of a bag.
-The calories aren't too high: only 170 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per serving!
 
Cons:
-The salt content is high (500 mg's per serving).  I wish Trader Joe's would have a lower sodium version.
-It doesn't reheat well.  The texture of the gnocchi changes: it becomes gummy. 
 
Overall, I think Trader Giotto's Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina is awesome.  I will always keep a bag in my freezer, and if you try it, I'm sure you will keep a bag on hand, too.