Tag Archives: chocolate

Trader Joe’s Field Trip

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I know I talk a lot about Trader Joe’s. I don’t have any vested interest in the company other than buying their goodies. But I promised a Facebook pal I’d post some of my fave things from there, including wine. Duh. Wine is one of the main reasons to make a TJ’s field trip. No permission slip needed.

Late last week, I headed over there forgetting that it was both Fri. and a holiday. Teeny parking lot and an F-150 do not a cute couple make. I bought a case of wine and some essentials like smoked salmon…Some of the items are TJ faves.

Wine:

  • Three bottles of Tres Pinos white – it’s a nice white blend w/ fruit forward, dry, but not too – $6.49/ea.
  • Three bottles of  Green Fin – similar to the 3 Pines, but less fruit – $4.99/ea. (This is where the TBC – Two Buck Chuck crowd gets it wrong. TBC is actually close to $4 in my store and not very good.)
  • Found Object Malbec – I like all the Found Objects I’ve had – Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc and this one – $7.49
  • Trader Joe’s Coastal Zinfandel – I don’t usually buy Zin, but this is a nice, inexpensive one – $6.99
  • La Finca Tempranillo – Same as Found Object, the Malbec and others are good, too – $5.99
  • 3 new reds I can’t recall, one was a Coppola. If you’ve not tried this vineyard, most are great. And yes, it’s the director of GodFather fame. I’ll let you know how they are.

Food:

  • TJ’s Maple Frosted Shredded Wheat – this is a new one for me but I could possibly live on it.
  • Crumbly gorgonzola
  • Honey-flavored Greek yogurt
  • Dixie Peach juice – I love all their juices
  • Dark chocolate covered ginger – a fave
  • Frozen pizzas and flatbreads – These are amazing. If someone served this to you after hiding the box, you’d swear it was from an upscale eatery. Try the ham, gruyere and carmelized onion flatbread. Ignore the portion suggestions of 1/3 of the flatbread and eat the whole thing. It’s small. I tried a new pizza – BBQ chicken, red onion and smoked gouda. Wow!
  • Seltzer – plain. It’s .79 here and .99 at reg. grocery store
  • Organic chicken breasts – Pricier than the pale versions at the big grocery stores, but flavor is better. Probably the absence of formaldehyde or something.
  • Maple syrup – What a difference the real deal is from that pseudo syrup stuff!
  • Spanish extra virgin olive oil – I like TJ’s prices on oils, salad dressings, etc., although I usually make my own dressing.

I bought a bunch more stuff I can’t recall, but my total was $168. Not bad if you consider that includes a case of wine!

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I’m Not Cat-Food Munching Lady…Yet

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I bought the pup some new, fancy treats when I went to Whole Foods. They’re natural, organic peanut-butter flavored cookies. I realized as I was doling out a couple that they are made “for you to share w/ your buddy.” Uh, no, I don’t think so. I’ll admit the cookies look kind of tasty compared to the liver-flavored blobs I use for training, but I’m not going to eat them. I’m trying to raise my dog to not eat or beg for human food, so why would I encourage us sitting down and enjoying a treat together? It’s weird enough that we’re sharing a bottle of fish oil caps.

Grilling Out

As I sit here hoping blizzard-y winds don’t blow my house down, it’s amazing that just four days ago, it was in the 60s and I grilled out. Before you say, “Well, I grill out all winter!” I can assure you that out here on the tundra you wouldn’t get a charcoal grill lit, take the time to let it burn down and then attend to it while the food cooks. Your nasty bits would freeze off.  Trust me.

Here’s what I grilled:

Parboiled redskin potatoes ahead. Sliced them in thick slices and added leftover roasted carrots. Later I took the onion slices from the marinade on the pork and sautéed them. Took a sheet of foil, sprayed it w/ olive oil spray and made a packet w/ the vegetables. Placed it on the cooler side of the grill.

I marinated a pork tenderloin in:

  • soy sauce
  • 6 oz. of chocolate stout (drank the rest while grilling)
  • lemon slices
  • thyme (still had some in my herb bed)
  • 3 lg. smashed garlic cloves
  • onion sliced into thick rings
  • honey

I wish I’d been able to marinate the meat overnight, but I did it for about 6 hours. Then poured out the marinade and grilled it. I like to get a good seared crust on all sides and then move it to a cooler spot. It’s usually a bit underdone, but I don’t have a problem w/ pink pork.

Grocery List Oddities

It’s been forever since I did a big trip to the store since I was sick for three weeks. I mostly ran out to Dollar General to grab o.j. or some take-out somewhere. I have filled in some of the gaps, like creamer, tomatoes, fruit, etc. But I really need to buy tons of stuff.

Some of the odder items on the list include:

  • Milk-Bones (always!)
  • 9V batteries – I’ve been in chirping, dying smoke alarm battery hell for several days. I know I should have replaced them all at once, but only had a couple on hand. Don’t run out and have one go nuts at 4 a.m. Just don’t. Stock up.
  • Shoelaces for running shoes – my shoes look like something I found in a dumpster.
  • Pepto-Bismol tabs
  • frozen stuff – Supposed to get a big work assignment the last two weeks and I need to have frozen meals on hand because I usually don’t have time to cook.
  • unscented baby wipes – No, no surprise baby announcement. I use them on the dog’s feet after she rearranges my mulch in the flower beds.
  • parchment paper – I’ve transferred this item to five successive grocery lists. Can’t find it at a couple of the usual places. I mostly use it for homemade pizza.

OK, that’s enough minutiae for all of us. The dog is even rolling her eyes about my lack of a life…

Burning the Latte

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"Medium" Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

“Medium” Starbucks Pumpkin Latte

After recently paying over $4 for a festive holiday latte at Starbucks, I’ve started making my own at home. Don’t get excited. I didn’t buy one of those insanely expensive new coffee/espresso/latte/single-serve machines. I use leftover coffee, a couple hits of Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup, cinnamon and fat-free creamer. It’s not bad. There’s no foofy foam on top or sprinkles, but it’ll do.

The other morning, I actually burned the latte. I was doing remote cooking in the style of  HWNLI (“He Who No Longer Inhabits” or the “new” Voldemort) and left the pot simmering away while I was distracted by the pup. My gas stove that goes from gentle simmer to fry the hell out of it in under 8 seconds made a boiling, sticky mess all over the burner. Lovely. I drank some of it anyway.

Carbo Load

What is it about this time of year, besides my rampant SAD (seasonal affective disorder – kind of depression “lite”), that makes me put every sugar-laden item in a five-mile radius in my mouth? Brownie bites are no longer satisfactory alone – they must have a scoop or TWO of peppermint ice cream on top!

This would be a good plan if I wanted to be a sumo wrestler. Reminds me of something a psychiatrist with whom I used to work (not as a patient, a colleague) said when I mentioned trying to lose weight. He said, “Maybe you should just revise your goals to become as big as possible.” I worry sometimes that he gave similar advice to his patients.

Fruit

In an attempt to cool it w/ the sweets, I had a clementine orange today. OK, let’s quit pretending that fruit is just as satisfying as a hunk of chocolate. Seriously. I love apples, but this time of year, they need to be baked w/ brown sugar or dipped in something.

To Ham or Not to Ham

Not unlike the masses, I think about buying one of those spiral-sliced, glazed (see brown sugar above) hams this time of year. If I do, I then have to eat 34 ham sandwiches even after splitting leftovers w/ my mother. But it’s often worth it for the bean soup I make w/ the bone. But now these suckers are like $4.99/lb. and of course the smallest you can purchase is 73 lbs. I may have to opt for another meat du jour this year.

Okay, I just proved my own point that most blogs go on and on with the most inane drivel disguised as interesting stuff. But maybe now you too are inspired to chuck the expensive latte habit and burn your own at home?

Alter Ego

When I’m not writing this blog about trips to Trader Joe’s and wine selections, I actually write for a living. I know, I know. That’s hard to believe, but I often pay my bills w/ writing income. In the interest of cross-promoting (like cross-dressing, but w/ less flair and mascara), here’s an article I wrote that was just re-posted on the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop blog. Thanks to author Tim Bete for his assist. Check it out and then stay and read about other humor writers who don’t have side jobs…

“Ahoy Matey: Pirate Parenting Eases Stress of Moving”

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.

Wine, Tall Bags and Green Beans

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Wine, Tall Bags and Green Beans

Thus began my latest grocery shopping list. Although I tend to drink more white wine in the summer, I was missing a red to have w/ a chunk of chocolate. So, red wine it is. Other items in the cart:

Green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and an avocado – I WILL eat vegs. in between the other crap I’ve been consuming.

  • Insect sting cream – Yesterday, after eight years of peaceful co-existence, the wasps that build a nest in my shed attacked me. I have at least 3 stings on ONE earlobe. When I went to look for a first aid cream, the tube was dated 2003.
  • Small filet of beef -Well, it’s not small, it’s .52 lbs. and was kind of expensive. But I rarely eat beef and I’m grilling out for the week on Sat. I’ll save half to put on an arugula salad another night.
  • Peppered turkey– I buy tortilla wrappers and make sandwiches. I pretend like it’s less fattening than bread.
  • All natural chicken sausages – Had a coupon.
  • Six bottles of red wine – My fave, Baguala Malbec 2008 was on  sale for $4.99.
  • Two bottles of rose – Some French stuff on sale for $7.99
  • Tall kitchen bags w/ handles – I swear there are as many choices of plastic bags as there are feminine hygiene products. It’s a disposable TRASH bag, people.
  • Kleenex – Only I bought Puffs. I shared my opinion about buying paper products in this post, If Only Paper Towels and Toilet Paper Were Edible. But I have to say, I’m a sucker for attractive Kleenex boxes. And yes, I buy the little boxes that are 25 times more expensive because they’re cute, dammit.
  • Assorted other stuff that’s even more boring than my take on Kleenex.

I spent quite a bit of money this trip, which I’m trying not to do (because the funds are scary low). But my rationale is my cash-back rewards credit card, that had a pristine 0 balance, messed up the amount in my account. I had $55 instead of $7. Sooo, I used the bad, bad card and will get the $55 taken off my next bill.

Hey, it’s ice cream season. Not sure if I shared that I’m into making homemade ice cream. My best is butter pecan w/ artisan salt. Details to come…;-)

Undersize Me…

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I’m sure some people still drink at lunch and maybe even hit a joint occasionally, but sitting in an empty parking lot with a quarter-pounder was my recent MO. I had just been grocery shopping and as usual there wasn’t much edible lunch stuff in my bags. And behold – a  McD’s appeared before me like a vision and I fixated on a quarter-pounder.

Meal Deal

I decided to go for a “meal,” which I never do because I don’t want fries or big drink. But I was jonesing for those fries and to save some cash, I did the meal deal and asked for a medium iced tea. The counter worker said, “the medium and large are the same price.”  I told her I knew that but just wanted a medium drink. This conversation continued longer than expected and I assured her I was fine w/ the medium drink and would forgo the amazing savings.

Ambiance

There is not much ambiance in a Walgreen’s parking lot, but I live 20 miles from this McD’s and we all know that hot fries have a 6 minute shelf life before becoming inedible. So I pulled into a nearby empty lot and ate lunch. Something about it felt creepy and sneaky – kind of like I was being bad. Oh yeah, I need another reminder to get a life…

Healthier Choices

I did buy some food at the store including fresh halibut that was $17.99/lb. The piece I chose was $6.53. I also bought some fruit to balance out the salt and fat from the fast food fest. Wine has fruit, too, right?

Are chocolate-centered peanut butter thumbprint cookies healthy?

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.

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??

Groceries in the Wild

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Today, my need for cat food and chocolate outweighed my concern about driving in the snow on bad tires. So I went to the grocery. My austerity plan is working fairly well – I’m trying to eat up everything I have on hand and spend less money on food items and luxuries like TP. But I needed a few other essentials.

Wild Kingdom

You may not believe this, but I swear I’m not making it up. I was in the drugstore part of the grocery store and walking by the adult “undergarments” area. OK, I was NOT buying them – even though they come in cool colors (like beige) now, I’m not there yet.

There on the shelves, in the midst of the diapers, were two mesh bags of pine cones. It wasn’t as though someone was in the home decor section and left these guys out of place. They had migrated to the adult diaper section. I completely lost track what I was over there to get.

 

 

 

(Pine cones behaving themselves.)

 

Today’s List

Having enough wine, frozen entrees, Brie (I’m slipping that one in because it gets lots of hits. Evidently, there are Brie cults out there in cyberspace.), hummus and pitas, I got the following:

  • Cat food – heavy on the fish flavors today
  • Fat-free creamer – this balances out the Chinese cookies…
  • TP – does anyone buy packages of single rolls any more? There’s double, mega…
  • Chocolate – I’ve discovered the most wondrous item of chocolatedom – dark chocolate w/ sea salt. Damn!
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Peppered turkey from the deli – this is another new fave
  • Some other stuff that w/ the above totaled $73.65 – I know I repeat myself, but how does that happen? Was the TP $29.95??