Tag Archives: cheese

Single Wanderers in the Grocery Desert

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shopperLately, I’ve started to pay more attention to my kin at the grocery store – those of us who wander in single-shopping mode, often perplexed by things like the overwhelming choices in the orange juice section. Pulp? Some Pulp? No Pulp with Calcium? Good Lord.

We don’t often make eye contact, we solo shoppers. We’re on a mission. In my case, it’s get it done and get out fast. But a recent mailing of $1 off coupons from Giant Eagle had me all over the damn store. I normally buy store brands, but w/ a buck off, I bought Kellogg’s Mini Wheats in Cinnamon Roll flavor. Seriously. But I’m digressing. (Hey, I saved nine bucks.)

There is a certain camaraderie between the singles when confronted w/couples who are not only arguing about some unresolved issue and taking it out on innocent produce, but also blocking any passage in their self-absorbed oblivion. I’ve caught many an eye-roll and exasperated sigh from fellow singletons when trying to negotiate around these folks. I’m fairly certain I recently had a silent communion w/ a guy as we said in our thought bubbles, “Thank God I don’t have to deal w/ that cra*anymore!”

We do peek in each other’s carts. I’ve learned to bite my tongue when about to comment on another single person’s items. Early on in fresh post-divorce mode, I talked to anyone and didn’t have much of a filter. I’d point out my 20 cans of Fancy Feast and case of wine and laugh while gazing at their head of lettuce, light bulb and cheese singles. It usually didn’t go over well.

I continue to chat w/ people in the wine department, advising them on a good red or nice Chenin Blanc. Most people like to talk about wine and some look petrified they’ll make a wrong choice, elevating a wine purchase to that of a new vehicle. So perhaps I offer them some comfort. I certainly enjoy myself.

Maybe we should have a secret handshake or club? Single People’s Grocery List Outpost #35. Come and share your grocery list and pet peeves. I’ll pour you a glass of wine.

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Chicken Sausage Pizza? Yes, Really.

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Unfortunately, I haven’t curtailed my holiday level eating. So unless I’m going to become a sumo wrestler or try out for a new reality show, “Bariatric Place,” I better cool it. I think I’ll start by not buying whatever pops in my head or see at the grocery store. But still on a food austerity program, I try to use up what I have on hand and only buy essentials like bread, wine and dog food.

Chipotle Chicken Sausage

I’ve talked before about my affinity for gourmet chicken sausages. Ideally, I like to grill them on charcoal, but I’m not firing up that grill in the snow drifts. So having a couple left over from a dinner earlier in the week, I decided to make that main attraction on a pizza. Yes, I know it’s not pepperoni or “real” sausage, but it’s a decent substitute and more interesting.

As you’ll recall, I don’t mess around making my own dough/crust. That’s what the gourmet cook “who no longer inhabits” used to do and I see no reason for it. But I do get creative and all gourmet on your a** w/ toppings. Here’s what I put on this one:

  • Store brand spaghetti sauce – not much, just enough to coat the crust
  • Sautéed fresh spinach and shallots
  • Sliced chipotle sausage w/ cheese
  • Bagged mozzarella
  • Fresh mozzarella – cut in 1/2 in. cubes
  • Chopped fresh Greek oregano ( under the snow in my herb bed – It Lives!)
  • Toasted pine nuts

I popped the oregano and pine nuts on top when I pulled it out of the oven. Just follow the directions on the prepackaged crust for time/temp it’s usually 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

OT RED ALERT: Pal Sarah just told me Trader Joe’s now has CRUNCHY Cookie Butter!! I couldn’t concentrate on anything after I heard that. I felt like Keith Richards when he finds a new supplier! Yowzer. I bet Sarah will work her magic w/ that stuff.

Is Peanut Brittle a Vegetable?

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I got an unexpected check this week (from what I assumed was a deadbeat client) which facilitated a long overdue TJ’s trip for staples like dark chocolate peanut butter salty caramel truffles. I also went to the reg. grocery store and stocked up. It’s amazing how much your menu-planning becomes more creative when you have actual food.

Holiday Food

I used to look forward to making holiday food like peanut brittle, lemon pound cake w/ lemon glaze, cheese balls, etc. Not really up for it this year, but I did find some raw peanuts from last year. Evidently, I wasn’t up to it then either. Still w/i the use-by date, I think I’ll make some.

My grandmother taught me how to make peanut brittle the old-fashioned way – cooking on the stove and spreading it out on a marble slab to cool. I make it in the microwave. I know how to make other candy-type things like caramels, but it’s a tricky process. You can end up w/ mortar if you don’t watch that thermometer. So, microwave it is.

Shopping Spree

Here’s the Trader Joe’s bounty:

  • case of wine – haven’t been able to afford that in a while. It makes sense because essentially you get a free bottle w/ the 10% discount. BTW, try a Gruner Veltliner if you can find one. Don’t worry if people scoff at your pronunciation.
  • gorgonzola – the real Italian version
  • smoked salmon – I swear I could live on it
  • sea salt pita chips
  • fig butter – for that apple pizza I’ve talked about
  • garlic hummus
  • spinach and kale dip – better than it sounds and low-fat
  • rosemary and raisin crackers – ditto
  • other stuff I can’t remember

At the reg. grocery I bought:

  • 2 lbs. of frozen E-Z peel shrimp – like the salmon, I could live on this.
  • brownie bites
  • green beans – I steamed them for me and the pup. Maybe eventually we’ll just eat the same diet. No comments, I’m kidding, people.
  • booze – I’m not a booze drinker, but I wanted a coffee liqueur for the occasional after-dinner drink and rum for a hot-buttered rum recipe I love. (see above holiday “food”)
  • other veggies and fruit
  • almond milk – it’s better than soy and I had a coupon
  • other boring stuff I can’t remember

Design-a-Tote

Hey, if anyone is interested (and why wouldn’t you be? I’m an artist, too!), I’ll design you a SPGL tote like the one below. Just send me your nutty grocery list (leave a comment and we’ll go from there) and I’ll design a tote for you. How fun is that? Well, you probably have more fun than I do, so it’s relative. This isn’t about trying to monetize my blog, I just like to tote cp (240x240)make the totes and they’re really affordable.

Kid Foodies’ Grocery Lists…and Gross Stuff

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I recently learned that a writer pal’s kids are total foodies and have some definitive opinions when it comes to eating. Instead of just being bored or trying to pop wheelies w/ a grocery cart when accompanying Mom to the store, these boys are into the experience. They agreed to be interviewed for SPGL. Dylan is 9 and Liam is 6 and 10/12.

Dylan and Liam raid the pantry

SPGL: Which one of you is most willing to experiment with new foods? What have you tried recently that was cool and you liked?

Dylan: “I am. New stuff that I like would be hard boiled eggs, asparagus, abalone.”

Liam: “Dylan is the experimenter. I tried Ostrich and it was pretty good.”

SPGL: When my brother was little, he would combine things kids don’t usually like – blue cheese and olives, for example. (BTW – he became a professional chef when he grew up!) Tell me about interesting combos of food you’ve tried.

 Dylan: “Vanilla wafers in milk until soggy; blue cheese on steak; blue cheese dressing on french bread instead of butter; my pie of mashed potatoes, ketchup, steak sauce, peas and meat. Oh, and dipping Skittles candy and jelly beans in milk.”

Liam: “I don’t know.”

SPGL: If you could manage a grocery-store trip by yourselves, you had your parent’s wallet and you could spend as much as you wanted, what stuff would you buy?

Liam: “Grocery store would be – cookies of all types, tortillas, beans (refried – clarification from mom), cheese, milk, strawberries, orange and green melon, raspberries, bacon, laffy taffy, and sour cream and onion pringles.”

Dylan: “Grocery list would be – candy like red vines, ice cream, horseradish, donuts, blue cheese (like 10 packs), other cheeses, tomatoes, tackys, hot cheetos, soda, hamburger buns and meat for mom to grind up and make yummy burgers, and beer for dad but they may not let me buy that I’m not sure.”

SPGL: As kids, my friends and I would mix up things like eggs, mud, bird poop, etc. just to see what it looked like. What totally disgusting stuff have you mixed together just to see how gross it is?

Dylan: “My friend put hot cheetos in strawberry chunk yogurt at school and it was so gross.”

Liam: “Anything mixed together is gross!”

SPGL: What are your favorite foods?

Liam: “Favorite foods are bacon, beans (refried), vanilla oreo ice cream, and that turkey lasagna from costco.”

Dylan: “My favorite foods are spaghetti with butter, blue cheese, tomatoes, coffee ice cream, any candy, ostrich, duck, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple and cantaloupe.”

SPGL: At the risk of creating “Kitchen Ninjas,” if you could bring any toys and/or tools into the kitchen to fix food or make interesting “sculptures,” what would you use? No chainsaws, please. 😉 (Although both boys checked first w/ mom to see if it was cool to answer this one, they did come up w/ some ideas.)

Liam: “Oh, I would love to use my Legos to make Lego cookies and Lego cake! I don’t know how that would work as they are kind of small.”

Dylan: “I would like to bring markers and paint but those probably won’t make anything taste very good.” (Mom told him you can buy markers and food paints. His eyes lit up and then he said, “Can you buy some, Mom?”) I also would like to use a hammer but I’m not sure for what, but Mom beats up the chicken sometimes.” (Mom says it’s a mallet to pound chicken and steak thin.)

SPGL thanks Liam and Dylan for playing along w/ me and thanks to Mom for facilitating. It’s great that you guys like to try new things and appreciate new tastes. Here’s to filling those grocery carts w/ even more new stuff!

Turkey Burgers in the Wild

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As you know, because this is a food-focused blog, I often post a recipe. It’s usually something I made up. The Food Network is not knocking on my virtual door to star in my own show, so don’t get too excited, Foodies.

Grill Me

Last weekend, my excellent pal Sarah and I made some kick-a** turkey burgers. I believe they would have been less impressive had we not cooked them on the hardwood lump charcoal-fueled grill.

“He Who No Longer Inhabits” spent many $$$$ on gas grills, trying to replicate the heat and cooking potential of a restaurant kitchen. In pursuit of the “best burger ever,” it never happened. Yes, there were a few good specimens, but my little Weber is the bomb. Fruit even tastes great grilled on it.

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey

1/2 lb. ground pork (I added this because turkey is too lean for grilling, IMO.)

1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pepper Jack cheese, sliced from a brick, about 1/4 ” thick

Good buns (heh, heh) I wanted to use pretzel buns, but store didn’t have them.

Cilantro mayo (recipe follows)

Mix turkey, pork, onion and garlic. (Sarah volunteered to do this fun part.) Form eight patties. On four of them, place two slices of cheese. Put the four remaining patties on top of cheese and pinch lightly to seal. We popped them in the freezer to keep the cheese from melting too quickly on the grill.

While they were grilling, we made up a mayo.

Cilantro/Lime Mayo

1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped (I have a ton in my herb bed if you want some.)

Up to 2 T. fresh squeezed lime juice

Mayo, about 1/2 to 3/4 c.

Mix and let set up for a few minutes in fridge.

After burgers are done, let them rest a few minutes and spread mayo on top and bottom of buns.

Well, as happens every time I stuff a burger w/ cheese, it did melt out somewhat. But OMG, they were amazing! Even after eating a whole 1/2 pounder and being stuffed, I thought about those babies all night long. I sent one of the other burgers home w/ Sarah and I’m having my leftover one tonight.

They were cooked a bit on the medium side, but we were willing to risk trichinosis and plowed through them. Next time, I think I’ll make thinner patties and freeze the cheese slices separately before making them.

Let me know if you have a fave turkey burger recipe.

Zombies in the Ethnic Aisle

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Zombies in the Ethnic Aisle

I haven’t spent much time at the grocery store lately. Still on my austerity program, trying to use up everything in the house. But you can only eat kosher hot dogs and shredded cheese for so many days in a row.

So, I had to pick up a few things. But bear with me while I rant a bit about fellow grocery shoppers. What is it about grocery shopping that turns some people into zombies with lobotomies (they mover slower than plain zombies)? I particularly notice this in the “Ethnic” aisle – the one with exotic items like pasta and canned tomatoes. I encounter two types:

  • People who can’t drive those monstrous kiddie carts. Those things scare me more than an 18-wheeler driver on speed. The kids always look miserable, BTW. Maybe they realize their parent sucks at driving.
  • People who look like they’ve had one too many doses of Thorazine (a tranquilizer drug used on psychiatric patients in the “snake pit” days.)

Admittedly, I hate shopping and have become really cranky with age, so I’m not very tolerant. But, hey, be aware and move your a– and cart out of the middle of the aisle!

Okay, rant over. What did I buy?

  • Wine – I also got a foofy lemony liquor that will need to be locked up away from my reach. It’s too tasty.
  • Assorted dairy items – I bought both heavy cream AND fat-free creamer. It’s almost homemade ice cream season. That’s my excuse for the fat stuff.
  • Asparagus – If I had to pick one vegetable to live on, this would be it. I drizzle olive oil on it, broil it and sprinkle Parm on it when it comes out.
  • Paper crap – See previous post “Too Bad TP & Paper Products Aren’t Edible.”
  • Some other stuff I can’t remember.

If you see me at the Giant Eagle, don’t rear-end me w/ your cart. I might go all postal on you.

Let’s Write Off March 2012

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I’ve missed a month and a half of posting on here. Let’s just say March was a bad one in the Hall of Fame of bad ones. Although this blog’s topics relate to single people’s grocery shopping habits, food, wine and the newly-single “adventure,” I’m going to head OT on this one.

In the earlier part of March, one of my best friends was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. This is a friend (her hubs, too) of close to 30 years. I still can’t get my head around this new information, but I’m refusing to allow any negative thoughts to come into my brain about outcomes. She’s the best and she’ll be okay. That’s what I’m going with.

My other best friend and soul mate, Bokhara, who I’ve talked about often on here, had a routine exam earlier in the month which led to some testing with a somewhat favorable outcome. But on March 19th after a run of very good days, he had to be put to sleep. He was tired and it was time. I’m so grateful I had him in my life for 16 1/2 years. He was a gift.

Needless to say, a trip down the cat food aisle at the grocery store made my heart gasp. And because Brie and wild salmon were his faves, it’ll be a while before I can eat those again.

So readers, please hold good thoughts and prayers for my two friends that they have peace, light and comfort on their roads ahead.

Too Bad TP & Paper Towels Aren’t Edible

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I held out as long as I could before going to the grocery store. The list was long and I knew I’d be spending some bucks. But $146? I was out of almost all paper products and other useless non-food or drink items. It struck me when I got home and unloaded that it’s a shame toilet paper and paper towels aren’t edible. If they make these things biodegradable, why not make them tasty? You could make a wrap with a couple of sheets of Bounty and deli goodies. TP could be used in baklava instead of those skinny layers of pastry dough.

One Square Per

That reminds me of something Sheryl Crow said on Oprah (or maybe it was Madonna since it sounds like her). Sheryl said that there was no reason anyone should use more than ONE square of toilet paper at a time. Seriously. Who could make that up? That’s about the time I stopped watching Oprah (that and the Dr. Phil phase).

Here’s what else I bought:

  • cat food – of course, HRH was tired of the selection in the 24-pack so I had to mix it up
  • asparagus- (which I douse w/ some olive oil, salt and pepper and put under the broiler. Try it w/ some grated Parm when it comes out.)
  • coho salmon – I know the farm-raised stuff is cheaper, but this is so much better for an extra $2/lb.
  • white and red wine – It’s tax season, need I say more?
  • afore-mentioned paper goods + foil
  • yogurt – Again, I have to wonder about that fruit on the bottom thing??
  • pastrami – not the good kind. This is some store-brand formed product w/ pastrami essence. Hey, it was on sale.
  • olives – I may devote a whole post to olives soon. I have avoided the olive bar lately because they’re pricey. I probably could live on olives, cheese and wine. LOVE!
  • mayo – realized mine was dated 11/15/11.
  • chocolate – bought Scharffen Berger because I’m going to make a foofy chocolate dessert for friends next weekend. If you bake w/ chocolate, you NEED this. Forget that brand that starts w/ “g.” Trust me, I may not cook much, but I make some mean desserts.
  • more stuff I can’t remember – but not meal-worthy fare

Hey, weigh in on that TP thing. One square??

Purple Leopards and Chemex Paraphernalia

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I posted last week about my adventure into a higher level of coffee-snobbery. As a quick follow-up before returning to foodstuffs, I had to order a new coffee grinder for the Chemex. My old one wasn’t cutting it – literally. The grind was too uneven and it caused the Chemex too much anxiety. Let’s put it this way, if you bought this coffee maker something for Valentine’s Day, it better be from Tiffany’s. It likes nice things. So, a burr coffee grinder is en route.

Creative Leftovers

I’m still on my austerity, lower-the-food-budget program and trying to be good about using up what’s in the house. I am feeling a little cheese-challenged as I’ve been out of blue and Brie for too long. But I did make another apple pizza with the last of the Gorgonzola and feta. It’s my new fave tasty.

Online Bargains

Maybe because I’m feeling deprived of gourmet cheese and treats, I’ve been shopping online for bargains. The best score so far is my Vera Wang p.j.s from Kohl’s. You have to see a visual to fully appreciate this find.

Are they not fabulous? That’s the pocket on the top. Okay, normally I wouldn’t choose purple and blue faux leopard clothing items, but it was the last color available in my size. Originally $50 (I know!), I got them for $20. The material is kind of a shag fleece.

When it warms up, I might sit out on my porch in these babies. Out here in the country, there are no fashion police so it’s cool.

Are Apples the New Pepperoni?

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Ha, that title will reel them in! I just made the apple/gorgonzola pizza I said I was going to make Super Bowl Sun. Nothing will replace pepperoni, but this pizza did turn out pretty cool and tasty.

I have to give a nod to Southern Living because the original recipe is from their Nov. issue. It was in the “I’m so sick of turkey, what can I eat?” section of the mag. I changed it up to include stuff I had on hand.

I used a Boboli whole wheat pre-made crust. “He Who No Longer Inhabits” (heh – sounds like Voldemort) used to foof over the crust and make his own. Not me.  Here’s the rest of the goods:

  • 1 granny smith apple (I used another type), sliced thin
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. fig jam (I used Trader Joe’s Fig Butter, which surprisingly has no fat.)
  • 4 oz. of gorgonzola (the recipe used goat cheese, but I mixed feta w/ the blue because that’s what I had and I wanted more of a salty taste.)
  • Sprinkle of Italian shredded cheese blend
  • 1/3 c. toasted chopped pecans
  • 1-2 cups arugula
  • Salad dressing of your choice (I used my own balsamic vinaigrette.)

Saute apple and onion in olive oil until soft and a bit browned. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread fig jam on crust and top with apples and onion. Sprinkle cheese over apples. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cheese has slightly melted. Sprinkle pecans over the top.  Let cool a minute. Toss arugula w/ a little salad dressing. You don’t have to use dressing, but I wanted a salad-type topping. You can serve w/ the arugula on top of pizza or I put it on the side.

(Not my pizza – too busy eating it to grab a camera.)

It was really good. The salty feta and gorgonzola balanced out the sweet apples and jam. I’m going to do some other variations of this pizza, too. A friend once served a fig and olive tapenade w/ goat cheese. I’m going hunting for that baby. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh yeah, serve w/ a red table wine, a bold white or something fancy. I had a Spanish Jumilla w/ it – a bit on the pricey side for me – it was $12.99, but it was worth it. Bon Appetit!