Saturday, April 18, 2015

Healthy Eating

Sorry for the long delay again. It's been a busy few weeks and I just haven't been able to get around to posting on the blog.  I also decided I wanted to focus the blog more on healthy eating meal plans so every few weeks I will be sharing my grocery list and day-by-day meal plan. I also want to each week feature one ingredient and share 3 ways to use that ingredient. For todays blog post I decided to discuss Buzzfeed's Clean Eating Challenge. My parents found the Buzzfeed article two weeks ago and started the 14 day challenge.  I didn't  follow the plan exactly, but  the plan has great recipes and is a good way to base correct portion sizes so I did an abridged version of the clean eating challenge that was less expensive and required less cooking time. For breakfast each day I had Trader Joe's small packs of Omega High Trek Mix and a cup of green tea, for lunch I had salads with nuts, cheese and leftover veggies from dinner,  I thought I would share my grocery list and  some of the dinner recipes I made during my version of the clean eating challenge.

Week 1:

To spend less time during week cooking I made the spaghetti squash on friday and on sunday I made  the ground turkey (recipe below).

Grocery List:
Spaghetti Squash
Trader Joe's Just Chicken Chucks
Ground Turkey
Iceberg Lettuce
Black Beans
Peanut Satay Sauce
Frozen broccoli
Frozen peppers

Day 1: 
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1 Serving

1 Serving
1 tablespoon coconut  oil
¼ of average yellow onion, minced
½ cup pre-cooked chicken strips, cut into bite sized pieces
¼ cup frozen or fresh bell peppers
1 tablespoon edamame
1  tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut satay sauce
4 iceberg  lettuce leaves

1)Cut onion in half.  Mince half of the onion.  Cut ½ cup of chicken into bite sized pieces.
2)Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil into a medium sized sauté pan. 
3)Once oil is hot (you can test by putting a drop of water into the pan. If the pan sizzles it’s hot enough)
4) Add onion and sauté for a minute.
5) Add chicken and peppers. Once heated through, around 4 minutes add edamame and heat for 1 minute longer.
6) Take off heat. Add soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and peanut satay sauce. Mix thoroughly so that the chicken and vegetables are coated. 
7)Separate 4 lettuce leaves. Add chicken filling to center of each lettuce leave and wrap lettuce to cover the filling.

Day 2:
BBQ Chicken Salad
2 Servings

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1cup pre-cooked chicken strips cut into bite sized pieces
½ cup frozen or fresh bell peppers
¼ cup of BBQ Sauce
½ cup  black beans
1 cup iceberg lettuce.
1 tablespoon of shredded lite Mexican cheese or cheddar cheese

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once oil is hot add chicken and peppers. Heat the chicken and peppers around 6 minutes. 

2. Take the chicken and pepper mixture off the heat. Add ¼ cup of BBQ sauce and mix thoroughly.

3. Shred one cup of lettuce. Add ½ of the chicken and pepper mixture to lettuce. Top with ½ cup of black beans, cheese and  then mix everything together.

Note: I put the other half of the chicken mixture in a small container to bring for lunch the next day.  Add ½ cup of black beans to the container with chicken. Take a separate small container and put  1 cup of lettuce and 1 tablespoon of cheese. Into the container. Heat the chicken mixture in the microwave for a minute and a half. Once heated, add to the lettuce and cheese and mix .

Day 3: 
Spaghetti Squash Turkey Bolognese 
1 serving 

1 package of ground turkey
½ of a yellow onion, minced 
1 tablespoon olive oil

Ground Turkey Recipe:
1    1)  Heat olive oil
2    2)Once pan is hot, add onion and turn stove to medium heat
3    3)Let onion cook for 1 minute and then add ground turkey
4    4) Cook turkey until browned, around 6-8 minutes

Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Bolognese Ingredients:

1/2 cup cooked ground turkey
½ of a yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 cup spaghetti squash
¼ cup tomato sauce 
1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese

Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Bolognese 
1   1) Put 1 cup of spaghetti squash in a bowl
2   2) Put ½ cup of ground turkey in a separate bowl
3   3) Microwave ground turkey for 1 ½ minutes
4   4)Add ¼ of tomato sauce to bowl of ground turkey and microwave again for 30 seconds
5   5)   Microwave spaghetti squash for 2 minutes
6   6) Add parmesan cheese 

        Day 4: 
I     "Inside Out" Ground Turkey  Wraps
d      1 serving 

I       Ingredients:
        1/2 cup cooked ground turkey
  1/4 cup frozen or fresh bell peppers
  1/2 cup broccoli 
  1  tablespoon soy sauce
  1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 
  2 tablespoons peanut satay sauce
  1 cup lettuce

    1) Microwave ground turkey for 1 1/2 minutes
        2) Microwave broccoli and bell peppers for 1 1/2 minutes
        3) Mix soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and peanut satay sauce in a small bowl
        4)The lettuce wasn't cooperating to make lettuce wraps so I made "inside out" lettuce wraps so I             cleaned and ripped lettuce into bite sized pieces
        5) Put lettuce on a plate, add ground turkey, vegetables and then top with soy sauce mixture and    
        mix thoroughly.

       Friday (Day 5) I had turkey bolognese with spaghetti squash (see recipe above) and on Saturday  (Day 6) I went out to dinner with a friend and had matzah ball soup 

        Week 2:


        To prep for the week of meals I made the roasted chickpeas, roasted cauliflowers and roasted eggplant according to the buzzfeed recipe. I also made the kale according to the Buzzfeed recipe as well. Finally, I poached chicken to have for the week.

         Grocery List:
   Greek Yogurt
   Thinly sliced chicken breasts
   Garbanzo beans

         Day 7: 
         Roasted Eggplant with chickpeas, Cauliflower, and lemon-parsley yogurt 
        Recipe: Buzzfeed's Clean Eating Challenge 

        Day 8:
        Chicken, Kale and quinoa with mango and lemon-parsley yogurt 
        1/2 cup of cooked poached chicken
        1 cup of  steamed kale, (see buzzfeed for recipe)
        1/2 cup of quinoa
        3 slices of Mango
        Lemon-parsely yogurt (see recipe, according to Buzzfeed's Clean Eating Challenge)

      1) Microwave cooked chicken for 1 1/2 minutes 
      2) Microwave kale for 1 minute
      3) Cook 1 bag of quinoa according to package directions
      4) Make lemon-parsley yogurt (look at Buzzfeed recipe) 
      5) add quinoa, kale, chicken and mango to a bowl. Top with lemon-parsley yogurt 

     Day 9:
     Lentils, Cauliflower and kale with teriyaki sauce
     1 Serving

        1/2 cup lentils
        1 cup of kale
        Leftover roasted cauliflower (from sunday's dinner)
        1/2 tablespoon of trader joe's soyaki sauce
        1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil 

        1) Microwave lentils according to package directions
        2) Microwave kale and cauliflower for 1 minute
        3) mix soyaki and sesame oil together in a small bowl
        4)  Add lentils, kale, and cauliflower into a bowl. Add soyaki sauce mixture and mix throughly 

     Day 10:
     Chicken, eggplant and lentils with vodka sauce over Quinoa
      1 Serving
      1/2 cup of cooked poached chicken
      Leftover roasted eggplant (from sunday's dinner)
      1/2 of leftover roasted chickpeas (from sunday's dinner)  
      1/2 cup of quinoa 
      1/4 cup of vodka sauce 
      1 tablespoon of feta

       1) Microwave chicken for 1 minute
       2) Micowave eggplant and chickpeas for 1 minute
       3) Microwave quinoa for 1 1/2 minutes
       4)  Add chicken, vegetables and quinoa to a bowl. Add vodka sauce and feta and microwave for another 30 seconds 

     Day 11:
    Chicken, Eggplant, roasted chickpeas and quinoa with lemon-parsley yogurt 

     1/2 cup cooked poached chicken
     1/2 of leftover roasted chickpeas (from sunday's dinner) 
     1 cup of steamed kale 
     1 tablespoon of hummus
     Lemon-parsely yogurt (see recipe, according to Buzzfeed's Clean Eating Challenge)
     1. Microwave chicken for 1 minute 
     2. Microwave chickpeas and steamed kale
     3. Microwave Quinoa according to directions 
     5. Mix Lemon-Parsley Yogurt in a small bowl
     6. Add quinoa, chicken and vegetables to bowl. 
     7. Top with hummus and Lemon-Parsley Yogurt and mix throughly. 

   Friday (Day 12) Trader Joe's Tempura Chicken with vegetable fried rice and broccoli and Saturday
   (Day 13) Quinoa burger, steamed kale and broccoli.  


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's Update #3

Hi Everyone! I'm sorry I have been MIA the past two weeks. I took a very interesting Food Writing  course, which you will hear more about in upcoming blog posts and I spent a few days in CT without my computer so I  had a unintentional technology cleanse, lol. Anyways, now I'm back and have a lot of exciting stuff up the pipe line. Today, I'm sharing an update on the most recent recipes I have tested from the Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's Cookbook and then next weekend I'm going to DC so be sure to look out for my review of some DC restaurants and I'm hoping to create a flipagram from all my pictures so hopefully I will be able to incorporate a video component to the blog for the first time! Now let's get back to today's blog post and discuss my most recent cooking endeavors from the Cooking with all things Trader Joe's Cookbook.

1) Chicken Pot Pie

This recipe was simple and I was very excited to make cheesy drop biscuits using buttermilk pancake mix. I have never really had proper biscuits before so I was curious to try them. The recipe gives you the option of using a traditional pie crust or you can use cheesy drop biscuits and since I already had buttermilk pancake mix I went the drop biscuit route,  Everything was going fine making this until I went to put the chicken pot pie in the oven and the sauce started spilling everywhere. The recipe says to place the pie on a baking sheet to catch drippings so I did that, but I was not expecting the sauce to spill over as much as it did.  Maybe it was just a matter of me being too impatient and not letting the sauce thicken enough. Anyways, over all this dish turned out ok, but was definitely not one of my favorites. I was expecting the drop biscuits to be light and airy, but instead they ended up dense and I could taste the all-purpose flour. the sauce was very light and didn't provide enough flavor to the chicken and vegetables. I had the leftovers for lunch the next, which tasted a little better, but overall I think I just didn't quite master the recipe and if I had let the sauce simmer a little longer and mixed the biscuit dough a little longer the dish would have tasted better. Oh well, you live and you learn!

2) Italian Wedding Soup

This soup was very easy and the end result was delicious.  As you all know I love soup and now that winter is finally wrapping up I wanted to get in one last soup recipe. I loved all the colors in this dish and soup was extremely flavorful. The parmesan cheese and parsley garnish escalated the flavor to the next level. One of the main reasons I wanted to make this soup was because I was excited to finally try chard.  I don't think I had ever even tasted chard before this. The chicken broth and parmesan cheese I added at the end cut a lot of the bitterness from the chard and I enjoyed playing around with the leftovers and sautéing it with butter and olive oil and adding lemon juice and parmesan cheese for a filling side dish with spaghetti and meatballs and I also used the leftovers to make a variation of pasta primavera.

3) Peanutty Sesame Noodles

Cold peanut noodles has always been one of my favorite lunches. They are very easy to make and the flavor combination of the peanut butter, teriyaki sauce and toasted sesame oil is outstanding. This is the first time I had incorporated vegetables into the dish and I have to say the carrots and scallion added a nice crunch to the noodles. This is one of those recipes that taste better the next day so I was happy that I made this on a sunday and then was able to eat it for lunch during the week and I served with Trader Joe's Kung Pao Chicken later in the week. Usually, I like peanut noodles cold, but this recipe I actually preferred warmed up. This is a fun and easy way to make a favorite Chinese takeout dish in the comfort of your own home.

4) Macho Nacho

This recipe had stood out to me when I was looking through the Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's cookbook. I loved the picture, which showcased beautiful red tomatoes and green cilantro piled  on top of chili and tortilla chips.  This also gave me the perfect excuse to try Trader Joe's vegetarian chili, which is something I had been curious to try for while. Whenever I make nachos I usually make them in the microwave so I was curious to see how nachos would taste baked in the oven. This dish is described in the cookbook as a "casserole version of a nacho plate", which is a perfect description. The end result was crispy and the tortilla chips, vegetarian chili and cheese worked very well together.  I used a little creative license with the toppings and along with the traditional guacamole and sour cream I used green verde salsa instead of a tomato based salsa. I also tried to make this a little healthier by using quinoa tortilla chips instead of regular tortilla chips. I was very pleased with how this turned out, but I have to warn you that this does not reheat well if you are considering using the leftovers. A few days after making the nachos I thought I would get all fancy and use the leftovers with some shrimp and make nachos for lunch and was not happy with the results.

Want to try these recipes for yourself? Buy "Cooking with all things Trader Joe's" on Amazon or Barnes&  or check out the Cooking with Trader Joe's blog. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

St.Patrick's Day Dessert Ideas...

St.Patrick's day is a week away! I wanted to share some yummy desserts, which are the perfect way to make your St.Patrick's day festive.

1) Guinness Chocolate Pudding

Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: SprinkleBakes

2) Bailey's Cheesecake Cupcakes
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of:

3) Shamrock Pretzel Bites
Photo & Recipes Courtesy of: thatswhatchesaid

3) Bailey's Irish Cream Whoopie Pies
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Burn Me Not

4) Leprechaun Parfaits

Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Jessica Weible Blogs

 If you are hosting a St.Patrick's day part check out this blog post for some menu and decor ideas.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Happy Hour: Patron XO Cafe Cocktails

After a long week and especially after being cooped up as a result of yesterday's snow I say it's definitely time for a cocktail! My brother bought me a bottle of Patron XO  Cafe for christmas so I have been researching some fun cocktail ideas and desserts, which all use the patron coffee liqueur.

1) The Onyx

Photo & Recipe Courtesy of:

This cocktail recipe calls for Patron XO cafe and coconut milk.  I like cocktails that use ingredients such as coconut milk or fruit juices that disguise the taste of the alcohol so this recipe is right up my alley

2) Tequila Mocha Sipper Cocktail

Photo & Recipe Courtesy of:

This recipe, which calls for Patron XO cafe, half & half and chocolate syrup sounds like an alcoholic starbucks drink, yum!

3) Butterscotch Treat

Photo & Recipe Courtesy of:

Patron XO cafe and butterscotch schnapps combined in one cocktail, yes, please!! The cinnamon sugar garnish sounds like a delicious addition to a yummy cocktail. 

4) XO Cafe Patron Cupcakes
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Abrielle Says

I wanted to find a dessert that incorporates Patron XO cafe and found this chocolate cupcake recipe, which sounds like a winner to me! I can't wait to give these a try. If I get motivated I might even end up making this recipe this weekend!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Good Eats: February Round-Up

It's that time again: here is my Good Eats: February Round-Up. In this month's round-up I have a Connecticut based restaurant, which will probably happen from time to time since I work in Stamford, CT and my parents live in CT so I spend a lot of time there. But don't worry I have some New York places as well and will continue to share my NYC favorite spots in the months to come. This month's picks include: crepes, pasta and burgers

1)  Crepes & Delices
Photo Courtesy of: Yelp
I live a couple doors down from Crepes & Delices  so I constantly walk by and smell the delicious smell of homemade crepes. After months of walking by every day I finally decided to go in and get a crepe. I went very simple and got a dulce de leche crepe, which was good, but I wish I had chosen more toppings to make the crepe a little more interesting. The menu was very extensive and had a good combination of sweet and savory options, which makes this the perfect place for lunch/dinner or  for dessert. You can also "build your own" crepe and choose either regular or buckwheat batter and choose your own toppings.  The space is very light and cheery and a nice casual spot to meet up with friends for a coffee or tea and a crepe.

2) Harlan Publick
Short Rib Bolognese; Photo courtesy of: CT Bites

I ended up spending my birthday in CT so that night I ended up going to Harlan Publick in South Norwalk for dinner with my parents. The atmosphere is trendy and cool. This is your quintessential gastropub, with an extensive beer and cocktail menu and high-end "pub" food. I got a white sangria as my cocktail, which is always my favorite drink so automatically my meal started on a high note. We got the Korean Fried Chicken Tacos, which were great. of course, my birthday meal had to include tacos! for my entree I went with the Short Rib Bolognese, which entailed:  garganelli pasta, short rib bolognese sauce, whipped ricotta and basil. I chose this dish since it sounded interesting and I absolutely love ricotta. This was the perfect dish to have on a cold winter night and I absolutely loved the flavor combination of the short rib with the whipped ricotta and the basil added the perfect finishing touch. For dessert we had the salted caramel tart, which of course I devoured because I love anything with salted caramel. Overall,  I really enjoyed my meal at Harlan Publick and will definitely have to go back during the summer since it seems like they have a very nice outdoor seating area, so I  would love to sit outside and get a  glass of sangria and some appetizers.

3) Five Napkin Burger
Photo Courtesy Of: Tegestology

I ended up randomly eating here last weekend with my parents. We had tickets to see Kinky Boots and had about an hour to eat before the show and on our way to the theatre we saw Five Napkin Burger so we decided to give it a try. This is chain restaurant with numerous locations throughout NYC, a location in Boston and in Miami as well. We went to the Hell's Kitchen location, which is the original Five Napkin Burger. The space is huge with modern decor and a lively atmosphere.  It's  a little more upscale than shake shack, but is still casual and fun. Since we were in a rush I just ordered the original 5 napkin burger, which included: a 10 oz ground chunk, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli, which really escalated the flavor of the burger to a new level. Usually I don't like big burgers and prefer thin burgers, but the combination  of the cheese, onions and rosemary aioli worked really well together. I wish I had more time to enjoy my meal since I would have also ordered one of the fun cocktails and they have an amazing dessert menu as well and the brownie sundae looked amazing! I will definitely be checking out the upper west side location in the near future!

Photo Courtesy of: PlanMB

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's Update...

Two weeks ago I professed my love for the "Cooking with all things Trader Joe's" cookbook and said that I was going to share updates on my journey cooking through the book. Well, I'm proud to report I have made an additional four recipes from the cookbook! All the recipes have been extremely easy and for the most part everything has turned out very well with one exception, which I will discuss later in the post. The cookbook has been opening my eyes to so many great Trader Joe's products I had never noticed and has helped my culinary imagination run wild. Without further adieu here is my update:

1) Vegetable Tikka Masala 
I had a couple friends over  for a cooking night at my apartment and this is what we made. Chicken Tikka Masala is usually  my go to whenever I order Indian food so I was very curious to try out Trader Joe's Marsala simmer sauce  with some veggies and I'm happy to report it's delicious! We decided to use cauliflower florets, zucchini and garbanzo beans in our dish (we just didn't include carrots, which are mentioned in the recipe). This recipe could not have been easier and simply requires adding the marsala summer sauce to  your veggies (I used cauliflower, zucchini, garbanzo beans and frozen peas) and then simmering in a large saucepan for around 15 minutes until your veggies are soft. The recipe also calls for plain yogurt, but since I could only find vanilla yogurt i decided to skip that ingredient.  We served our vegetable tikka marsala with Trader Joe's garlic naan, which was outstanding and will definitely become one of my frequent Trader Joe's purchases. 

2) Casper-lovers Chicken and Eggplant
Above I mentioned all the recipes turned out well with one exception, well this recipe was that exception. This was definitely one of the easiest recipes from the book and only required 3 ingredients and then it was simply peeling and cutting eggplant and adding the eggplant and bruschetta sauce on top of the chicken and cooking in the oven at 350 degrees for  30-40 minutes. I made this on monday night since I had a day off for presidents day and had time to cook and put in the refrigerator to have later in the week when I was back at work and less time to cook. I ended up having this for dinner on wednesday. I thought that since I had some leftover frozen peas I would add some to my dinner to give the dish a pop of green. I first microwaved my mashed potatoes and then microwaved my chicken dish along with the frozen peas, which was a really bad idea. I should have microwaved the frozen peas separately because they took longer to cook and then by the time they were hot the chicken and eggplant was ruined.   My chicken was dry and overcooked and my eggplant didn't taste that good and i'm not sure if that's because it had been microwaved for too long or if storing in the refrigerator for two days had ruined the eggplant's flavor. Oh, well you live and you learn. I will definitely from now on think about what ingredientsI'm putting together in the microwave and will not try to save time by combining things that shouldn't be microwaved together.  The end result was edible but definitely was not one of my culinary masterpieces.  I will have to give this recipe another shot and try it straight from the oven to compare the results.

3) Asian Dumpling Soup
As I have clearly demonstrated through numerous posts on this blog I'm a big fan of Asian food. Thai, Chinese, Japanese I love it all! I'm a big fan of  Trader Joe's Thai Shrimp Gyoza so I really liked the idea of incorporating the gyoza into a soup. The recipe calls for chicken broth, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, stir fry veggies, garlic and of course the shrimp gyoza. You first add the chicken broth, soy sauce and garlic to a big pot and heat for a few minutes. Then you add the veggies and gyoza bring to a boil and then simmer for another five minutes. The recipes calls for a  splash of toasted sesame oil at the very end. The soup turned out great. The chicken broth, soy sauce, garlic and toasted sesame oil provided the shrimp gyoza with a more enriched flavor and the stir fry veggies added nice color and made the soup more filling. 

4) Shredded Pork Enchiladas Verde
These were amazing!!! my cooking confidence was a little shaken after making the Casper-lovers chicken and eggplant so I needed a kitchen miracle to redeem myself and this recipe did the trick. The recipe calls for Trader Joe's original carnitas, which were kind of tricky to find in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe's, but now that i know where the carnitas is stored I will definitely be buying frequently! Along with the carnitas this recipe also calls for: corn tortillas, Trader Joe's salsa verde, sour cream, grated Pecorino Romano, salad, frozen roasted corn and cilantro. I made an abridged version of this recipe and didn't use frozen corn and replaced Pecorino Romano with parmesan cheese and instead of fresh cilantro I used some of the leftover cilantro salad dressing. The recipe first says to heat  the corn tortillas. This proved to be a difficult step. Whenever I would transfer the heated tortillas to a plate the tortillas would rip. I then added the shredded carnitas to the tortillas  and topped with the sour cream, salsa verde and cilantro mixture and then I added the parmesan cheese. Then the recipe says to roll the tortillas and place in a baking dish  seam side down.  Once the enchiladas are assembled they are baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. I actually ended up making this two nights in a row because I had leftover meat and the first time I made this I had forgotten to take a picture. The second time i made these I didn't have much of the sour cream mixture leftover and I added some roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts to the filling mixture. Both times this recipe turned out phenomenally well. The parmesan cheese and the carnitas work really well together and the salsa verde is the icing on the cake and gives this dish a lot of flavor. The roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli was a random addition, but ended up working really well with the dish. Overall, this was success and I can't wait to buy the traditional carnitas again and make salads and rice bowls (yes, two things I reference a lot on this blog). 

Want to try these recipes for yourself? Buy "Cooking with all things Trader Joe's" on Amazon or Barnes&  or check out the Cooking with Trader Joe's blog.