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&Noble.com or check out the Cooking with Trader Joe's blog.