Tag Archives: pizza

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!

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…

Feed a Cold, but Not THAT Much…

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Poor neglected blog. But readers, I’ve spared you what would no doubt have been the ramblings of my jam-packed sinuses and you don’t want to hear anything they have to say. Ten days of this and I’m ready to surrender to Western medicine and get some antibiotics from the doc. Aside from feeling like crap, I’ve developed some scary eating habits. Fast food and mostly foods from the four food groups – salt, fat, sugar and chocolate.

Very rarely do I darken the drive-thru of the Golden Arches, but I’ve been there, Wendy’s, Tim Horton, pizza land and a lousy Chinese place in the last week and a half. I don’t do fast food, or at least haven’t for the past three years. Today, I tried the Fish McBites. Scary, but I liked them, especially w/ extra tartar. Someone, please do an intervention…

This is what my grocery list has looked like lately:

  • pretzel thins – Who are we kidding w/ the “thins?”
  • mini ice creams – I rationalize that the individual servings are not as fattening. Maybe not, unless you eat two…
  • salt & vinegar chips – I NEVER bring these missives from Satan into my home. But now that they’re here, I have to eat them. At least these are baked.
  • triple fudge brownie mix – Oh, it doesn’t stop there. I’m obsessing about making a Trader Joe’s Crunchy Cookie Butter frosting for these bad boys. Like I said, please call Dr. Drew.
  • milk-bones – At least I’ve drawn the line and won’t be dipping them in onion dip. 
  • assorted cheeses – Evidently, there’s no limit to the things that taste better w/ melted cheese.

So I’m picking up an OTC drug today at the grocery pharmacy that sometimes has to have a ‘script. Confusing, but I hope it works before I outgrow my clothes, couch and house…

My nurse pal says that craving salt is often an indicator that your electrolytes are out of balance. I guess I’ll have to add Gatorade to my diet.

Now why didn’t I freeze some of these bacon cookies when we made them?

If I had bacon, I'd be making these.

If I had bacon, I’d be making these.

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.

Dog Trumps Blog

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I hope there’s a support group out there for neglected blogs. Mine needs it. At group, I imagine you’d hear them say things like, “She was crazy about me at first, posting daily and then I guess the thrill wore off…”

My last post was 9/25. The only excuse I have is I got a puppy. I honestly don’t know how you human parents do it. I’ve barely had time to work or do anything not puppy related. Training, buying matching/coordinating collars and leashes, vet visits, throwing the squeaky ball 23,000 times, etc. How do you manage??

She’s doing great and at almost 9 months, needs less attention. But when I’m on deadline, there needs to be a puppy equivalent to Dora or Nemo DVDs for the busy Dog Mom.

Thanksgiving Non-Holiday Foods

My mother informed me she’d like to just hang at home this year, so I have no Thanksgiving plans. Before you feel sorry for me, it’s actually the way I like it. Too many years w/ the ex’s family –  giving each other “suggestions” while cooking and then getting stuck w/ the horrific clean-up that followed their insane food fests did me in. I could give a sh**.

But I’ll check in next week and tell you what wine I I’m choosing to go w/ the pizza or Whopper combo I’m having. And I have baby Butterfingers leftover from Halloween. Score!

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!

Is Gorgonzola Super Bowl Food?

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As my friend just reminded me, “You’re kind of a boy that way,” when I told her I do like to watch pro football. But the Super Bowl this year doesn’t do it for me. But I’ll side w/ the majority of my friends who don’t like Tom Brady and become an instant Giants fan.

However,  I did buy an avocado to make guacamole to pay homage to the big game. But instead, I’m doing this apple/red onion/gorgonzola/fig jam pizza. I know. It’s so far from football food, it’s almost in a different sport. Maybe figure skating?

In addition to some staples like red wine, fishy cat food and coffee creamer, I bought a few treats at the grocery yesterday:

  • “Chinese” cookies – the quotes are because I would call them Asian. I’ve decided that besides the almond flavoring, their texture is what’s addicting.
  • Light cream cheese – I call this a treat because I use it like a condiment – on a ham sandwich w/ red onion or a bagel w/ raspberry jam.
  • Arugula – I haven’t mentioned this before on here, but I’m a crazy arugula fan. I’ve found that many people aren’t. I’m going to toss it w/ balsamic vinegar and olive oil and put it on that pizza above.
  • Mexican shredded cheese blend – This is one of those totally necessary foods I use to create the laziest meal ever. Cheese melted on tortilla chips. You can’t even call them nachos because there is no other ingredient. This meal takes 50 seconds on 50% power in the micro.

Not the most exciting single people shopping trip report. But I did lose my truck key and that was somewhat interesting…

Are There “Staples” Other Than Wine and Brie?

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Yesterday, I went to the grocery for the first time in two weeks. As I mentioned in my last post “New Year-New Weird Cr– to Do with Food”, I’m trying to use up all the food I have on hand and stretch that budget. But honestly, how can I spend $131 ($20 was cash back) and come home w/ the only consumables being cereal, breakfast bars and hot dogs? Well it was the “toiletries” shopping day – toothpaste, Ibuprophen and moisturizing lotion (which BTW, is more $ than a bottle of decent inexpensive wine!), etc.

Pantry Staples

(I had a nice image of Brie here that someone must have eaten!)

I’ve recently realized I have nothing that you would consider a “basic” in my pantry – no tuna, spaghetti sauce (that doesn’t have a 2003 expiration date) or other stuff that might make a meal. Unless you consider Brie, white and red wine to be basics… which, of course, I do.

But then I thought about some of the stuff I have on hand right now – smoked salmon, prosciutto, pancetta, an aged cheese w/ Syrah and a frozen Newman’s Own pizza. Hey, those are my staples!

Maybe next trip I’ll shoot for some normal-people food:

  • Peanut butter
  • Bread (that isn’t bakery foo-foo stuff that gets stale in 20 mins.)
  • Pasta
  • Hey, how about some fruit and veggies? Brie is rather low on the essential nutrients and vitamins…

So, what’s in YOUR pantry? Confess, I won’t tell…