Posts Tagged ‘Trader Joe’s’

So, I have a confession to make. Lately, I have been rather lazy and uninspired in the kitchen. And I have been craving lots of “bad” stuff: cheese, carbs, melted cheese, hot carbs, cold cheese, crunchy carbs… you get it. Same ingredients, different ways: not great for the waistline!

And a few days ago all I wanted for dinner was a big plate of cheesy nachos. I thought about going to pick some up, or going out, but then I took a step back and said to myself, “Self, you can make tasty, but healthier nachos at home. Stop being so lazy!” (Sometimes I have to just be straight up with you guys- I talk to myself).

So I grabbed a can of TJ’s Cuban Black Beans from my pantry…

These are great for those lazy nights because they are pre-cooked with onion, green peppers, and lots of spices. Great flavor! Even if you don’t have a TJ’s near you, I am sure you can find beans in your store that are cooked with spices and veggies. This will save you a lot of time on nights when you just don’t have the energy to do it yourself.

I heated up a big bowl of beans and topped them with chopped tomato, part-skim mozzarella cheese, low fat yogurt (instead of sour cream), and salsa. I had some sweet potato ruffle chips (also from TJ’s) and corn chips on the side.

This was SO GOOD! I think the key to making this dish healthy is to load up on beans and skimp a little on the chips. The chips are great for a little crunch, and to satisfy the carb craving, but the beans are really what keeps you feeling full and satisfied. And low fat yogurt or sour cream gives you that hearty, creamy taste without all the fat.

And as long as you are eating chips, might as well go for the sweet potato ones and have some extra vitamins, right?

A perfect bite…

I’m sure you guys have made “nachos” at home- no big cooking revelation here- but t it really was so satisfying for me. So much better than going out for a big plate of Mexican food, and coming home feeling nauseous, bloated, gassy, and like you just gained 5 pounds in salt/ water retention. Sometimes it’s just not worth it!


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Last night, I made the most yummy dinner- and it was really quick! Perfect for a weeknight meal.

I was in the mood for pasta, but I wanted to try something a little different. So I put together the following ingredients in my kitchen:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Roll of polenta
  • Trader Joe’s “Giotti” canned tomato sauce
  • Goat’s milk gouda

I decided to combine all of these ingredients into mini eggplant/ polenta “lasagnas”- and they turned out really well!

I preheated my oven to 350, sliced up the eggplant, and cooked it in a pan (about 3 minutes each side) on medium heat with some EVOO, salt, and pepper. While the eggplant cooked, I sliced up the polenta. Then, I just stacked the soft eggplant and the slices of polenta (just 2 slices of both- didn’t want them to topple over!). I topped the “lasagnas” with the TJ’s sauce and a slice of yummy cheese on top.

I popped the whole thing in the oven, covered in aluminum foil, for 20 minutes. I took off the foil after 20 minutes and let it sit in the oven and bake for another 5.

And, VOILA!  A cheap, easy, and really tasty dinner!

If none of you have cooked with polenta in the past, I highly recommend it. It’s actually made of cornmeal, and you can find it in any supermarket these days, usually in the pasta aisle. I like to buy it pre-made in a roll (wrapped in plastic) which is easy to cut up and bake or pan fry. I was really happy with this version… as I don’t use recipes, I’m always happy when I play with ingredients and it works!

All of the flavors worked perfectly together. You could definitely play with the ingredients and add things like zucchini, peppers, fresh basil, a sharper cheese, etc. This dish is very forgiving! Especially if you have a great sauce (This TJ’s marinara is highly recommended by yours truly).

This dish also makes plenty of leftovers (if you are two hungry eaters, like we are). It made enough for 2 filling meals for both of us!

Hope you all give this a try at home. If you do, don’t be afraid to add new flavors and ingredients- and let me know how you like it!

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Today I spent my entire day in our apartment, in my PJ’s… being really lazy. I read my book (The Hours), watched a movie with Loren (Funny People- very good) and just did a whole lotta nothing. I rarely do this, but it was so gray/ rainy/ cold out today that I had no motivation to get out of my PJs. So I didn’t. And it felt great!

Lots of lounging means less hunger and a need for less food, so we didn’t eat very much today- just two meals. Breakfast was a wrap with scrambled eggs/ egg whites, feta cheese, and avocado. With lots of hot sauce! And some earl gray tea.

I love breakfast burritos- there is nothing better!

I also had 2 clementines. Almost done with half of a giant box!

I snacked on some light TJ’s popcorn while we watched the movie.

Around 7, I started to feel hungry again. I saw some TJ’s turkey meatballs in the freezer that I have been wanting to try. Loren had the idea of cooking up some mushrooms with the meatballs and making a meal of it. We didn’t have marinara sauce, so I just cooked everything in olive oil, tomato paste, and a little bit of red wine (after nuking the meatballs in the microwave for a few minutes).

We also had a salad with EVOO and balsamic vinegar on the side. Loren poured me a little bit of wine but I wasn’t in the mood- didn’t drink it.

We melted a bit of cheese on top of the meatball/ mushroom mix. It was really good!

And I grabbed a slice of Ezekial toast to go with. Tasted like a meatball sub!

After dinner, I snuck a mini Reeses leftover from Halloween.

I would bet good $$ that I will consume another clementine or two before bed.  I love them!

I am spending the night in, taking it easy. Last night was a going out/ drinking night so tonight will just be me, my book, my kitties, and a mug of tea. I hope tomorrow will be a more active day!

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Morning, all! Sadly, it’s back to reality today. The work week has begun!

It was sad to say goodbye to my whole family and to the holiday weekend which I love and look forward to all year. BUT, I am seeing everyone very soon (in 3 weeks) for an amazing trip that my parents are taking us on over Christmas break. I am so excited! (More details to come…)

We ended our weekend yesterday in family style- with food, of course! We all ordered breakfast and ate together in my parents’ hotel. I went to the gym before breakfast, knowing we were eating a big meal. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes of weights and abs. It was tough!

It was really nice to be together around a big table one last time. 🙂 I ordered Eggs Benedict, without the Hollandaise sauce, without the ham. So really, it was poached eggs on an English Muffin. And I stole two pieces of bacon to go with!

The hotel poached the eggs perfectly: nice and runny on the inside, well-cooked on the outside. Love that gooey yoke on toast!

We all took one final walk around Central Park and then it was time to say our goodbyes. My little sister, Margaret, actually came back to Brooklyn with us for the afternoon to see our apartment and our neighborhood for the first time. We dropped off our bags at the apartment and strolled around for a while, trying to take in all the daylight we could before about 4:30 when it gets dark! We stopped for a snack/ small lunch at one of my favorite cafes, Ted & Honey.

I split a vegetable and goat cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread with Loren. It was filled with portabellos and roasted red peppers.

Hot and toasty. Yum!
After our snack, Marg and I headed to Trader Joe’s. I bought a ton of groceries- we were out of everything! Its been weeks since we have shopped. And she picked up some goodies to take back to school- very important since she can’t get organic, good food close by. Since she was heading back to college last night, I wanted to make her a nice homemade dinner… OK, I also really wanted a homemade, veggie-filled meal! No more dining out for a while, please!

Dinner was centered around the Garlic Naan we bought at TJ’s. Margaret loves it and was raving about it in the store, so I wanted to give it a try. In keeping with the Indian theme, I wanted to make a kind of curry- bean dish, similar to the flavors in dahl.

I first cooked a chopped half onion and 3 chopped tomatoes in a pan, until the tomatoes were pretty mushy. Then I added about 1/2 cup (I don’t measure) of almond milk to give it a creamy texture. (After learning from many of you that Almond Milk Curdles because it can’t hit very hot liquid when it is cold, I heated it up in the microwave for 30 seconds before adding it to the mix. It did the trick! Thanks!) Then, I added a large can of drained kidney beans to the pan. I put a lot of curry powder, some dark chili powder, red chili flakes, salt, pepper, 3 bay leaves, and some nutmeg in the mix. I leg the whole mix cook together on medium-low for about 15 minutes to get nice and thick. The almond milk bubbled up nicely.

I also roasted some brussel sprouts to go along with the beans. I flavored them with 2 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and EVOO. I sautéed the mix in a pan until the brussel sprouts were golden brown, then put them in the over for about 20 minutes at 350.

I have to say, the whole meal turned out pretty well- considering I was just playing with flavors! My eaters were happy…

We had some really good $10 Spanish wine with the meal that Loren picked up a few days ago. It was perfect!

(Yes, Buzz likes to sit in my seat and show me who’s boss.) The beans turned out so well. I will definitely be making this again very soon!

And the naan was amazing- not too garlicy, but flavorful. I just heated it in the oven for about 5 minutes and it was perfect- chewy and doughy. I split a piece with Marg.

Dessert was two lovely clementines.

And after another short walk (I love walks, what can I say?), a hot bubble bath, and starting a new book (The Hours– can’t believe I haven’t read it yet) I felt a bit better about the holiday weekend coming to an end. I had trouble getting to sleep, but that always happens when I’m a bit sad. Today is a new day and I am feeling much better, thanks to a great morning swim!

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

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