Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

Thanksgiving recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Sorry for the lack of posts recently – the past few weeks have been really hectic!

The boyfriend and I were with my aunt, cousin, her husband, and their five-year-old twins for the holiday. Along with some extended family, there were 15 of us at Thanksgiving dinner! We drove down to Orange County last Wednesday afternoon and just got back Sunday night after a great day at Disneyland!

Unfortunately, I totally neglected taking pictures of all the food. But I managed to snap this one – the remnants of the cranberry apple baked brie appetizer I made – it was a hit!

Cranberry Apple Baked Brie
All I did was unroll a sheet of puff pastry, spread on Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter, put a wedged of brie in the middle of the puffed pastry, and wrap it all up. I whisked an egg and brushed a thin layer on top of the pastry, and baked at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until it was golden brown. Here’s a picture of what it actually looked like (from Iowa Girl Eats) since I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough – this dish was devoured!

This was a successful appetizer. It was gone in no time! And you can totally use any type of jam/spread you want for the flavor. I got the idea here, which used pumpkin butter. But the cranberry apple butter was an amaaaaazing complement to the cheese.

I also contributed the mashed potatoes. Unfortunately this is the only picture I got of them, haha – but that’s what 10 pounds of potatoes looks like!

You can obviously cut down the portions on this, but these are the amounts I used to feed 15 people (and we had plenty left over).

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
– 10 lbs potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
– 2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
– 24 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
– 2 heads garlic
– salt and pepper

– To roast the garlic, cut off the tip of each head, drizzle with olive oil, and lightly salt and pepper. Wrap in tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
–  Cook the potatoes in salted water until fork tender, about 15-30 minutes depending on how full your pot is. I actually separated the potatoes into 2 pots so they would cook faster. Drain and return to pot.
– Add garlic, butter, and sour cream. To add the roasted garlic, hold by the stem of the garlic head and just squeeze the cloves out. They should slide out pretty easily.
– Mash everything together with a masher (I made the boyfriend do this part).
– Add in milk in small amounts at a time, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
– Add salt and pepper.

I’m so sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product! But these potatoes tasted amazing. There was just the right amount of garlic, and the sour cream makes them so creamy.

We spent the day at Disneyland on Sunday with the family, so unfortunately we didn’t get to take any leftovers home. (We had a cooler but still didn’t want to leave food in a hot car for the entire day.) But if you still have leftovers, check out these great ideas on how to use them!

Some other photos from the holiday…

Our beautiful turkey, stuffed with apples, onions, sage, and rosemary

One of the table settings

Southern California sunset (the picture really doesn’t do it justice)

Disneyland!

What was your favorite part of the Thanksgiving dinner?
I’d have to say my cousin’s yams!

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Honey pepper tofu

I know a lot of people don’t like tofu, but for me it’s just a vessel for whatever flavors you prepare it with – which means it can taste like whatever you want it to! And don’t give me the argument that it’s squishy and spongy and has a gross texture – not the way I prepare it! It comes out nice and crispy.

I always buy extra firm tofu. Then I cut the block the long way into 3-4 slabs. (The thinner you cut your slabs, the crispier the tofu will come out.) I don’t have a fancy tofu press, so I put the slabs on a cutting board, layer several paper towels under and over the tofu, and cover with something heavy for several minutes to squeeze most of the water out. This time I just piled all my cookbooks on top. Hey, ya work with what ya got.

After 10 minutes or so, I manually press the tofu some more with more paper towels just to get as much moisture out as I can. Then, I lay the slabs on a baking sheet, salt and generously pepper, and drizzle honey over the top. Then I flip the slabs over and do the same to the other side. I really like the contrasting spicy and sweet flavors, so I add a hefty amount of pepper. If you want it to be sweeter, just add less pepper and more honey. I then use a spatula to cut the slabs into little pieces.

Put it into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, flip the tofu over, and then bake another 10-15 minutes to desired level of crispiness.

This is definitely my favorite way to prepare tofu! These little squares are great tossed on a salad or even on their own. And they reheat in the microwave really well too.

Do you like tofu? What’s your favorite way to eat it? 

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5 ingredient pasta carbonara

Last night’s dinner was super easy and quick – 5 ingredient pasta carbonara!

We decided to roll with whole wheat linguine.

While the pasta cooked I crisped up some bacon. I tried Trader Joe’s’ ends and pieces and it worked perfectly. These are just the scraps that are typically thrown away when bacon is cut into strips. There was hardly any fat and it was really cheap (I used probably less than 1/4 of the package for this recipe!).

After draining the bacon on a paper towel, but reserving some bacon fat in the pan, I tossed the bacon and cooked pasta together.

Then I quickly poured 1 egg plus 1 yolk, whisked with salt and pepper, over the warm pasta. Because I forgot to reserve some pasta water like the recipe called for (typical that I mess something up), I added about 1/3 cup of water along with the parmesan cheese and tossed it all together.

This was an easy, quick, and delicious dish. It was creamy, salty, chewy, and satisfying. I wish I had cut the bacon up into smaller pieces, but the boyfriend said he actually liked the big chunks. Oh, and if you try this, no need to add any salt – there’s plenty in the bacon!

I halved this recipe, and got the idea from Iowa Girl Eats.

What’s your go-to easy Italian/pasta dish? Do you use whole wheat, regular, or a different type of pasta?
I’ve actually come to really prefer the taste and texture of whole wheat pasta. 

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