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. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Let's Talk About: Easy Shrimp Recipes

Shrimp is one of my go-to choices for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. I love that shrimp is extremely versatile and can be used for anything and everything from: tacos, lettuce wraps, rice bowls, pizza and pasta. Below are just a few shrimp recipes to try.

1) Jerk Shrimp With Caribbean Quinoa
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Iowa Girl Eats

2) Risotto Primavera With Shrimp
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Pretty Kittens Kitchen 

3) Shrimp Burgers
Photo & Recipe Courtesy Of: Slender Kitchen

4) Shrimp and Pesto Pizza With Goat Cheese
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: jaymimphotoblog

5) Lemon Garlic Shrimp, Wilted Spinach and Cauliflower Mash
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Elizabeth Bryant

6) Curry Hummus Naan Pizza with Coconut Shrimp
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Climbing Grier Mountain

Friday, February 20, 2015

26 recipes for my 26th birthday

Since today is my 26th birthday I thought I would share 26 Pinterest recipes that I want to try this upcoming year

1) Baked Turkey & Cranberry Sliders
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Confections of a Foodie Bride
2) Bruschetta Chicken
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: A Teaspoon of Happiness

 3) Buffalo Chicken Cups
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Damn Delicious

4) Cannoli Dip
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Cooking Classy

5) Chicken Florentine Meatballs & Spaghetti Squash
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Popular Paleo

6) Bruschetta with Ricotta, Grilled Eggplant, and Mint
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: The Daily Meal

 7) Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Taste of Home

8) Churro Cupcakes
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: I Heart Nap Time

 9) Cilantro Edamame Hummus 
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: All Recipes

10) Coconut-crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Rachel Ray Magazine

11) Easy Chickpea Curry
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: How Sweet Eats

12) Frozen Hot Chocolate
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Picky Palate 

13) Savory Kale, Cannellini Bean and Potato Soup
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: All Recipes

 14) Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Ezra Pound Cake

15) Mexican Black Bean Pizza
Photo & Recipe Courtesy: Aggies Kitchen

16) Pulled Portobello BBQ Sliders
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: One Ingredient Chef

17) Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Quinoa Salad in Balsamic Vinaigrette
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Closet Cooking

18) Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Alfredo
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Lauren's Latest

19) Salted Caramel Buttery Crumb Bars
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Averie Cooks

 20) Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Martha Stewart

21) Shrimp Pasta with Tomatoes, Lemon and Spinach
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Bev Cooks

 22) Sweet Potato Cakes
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of:  Sprouted Kitchen

 23) Thai Turkey Burgers
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: how sweet it is

24) Thai Chicken Pizza
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Spicy Southern Kitchen

 25) Vegan Butternut Chili
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Sensual Appeal

26) Salted Caramel Budino
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Good Life Eats

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Oscar Party Menu Ideas

Since the Oscars are on sunday I thought I would share some menu ideas for anyone hosting an Oscar viewing party.  I have included some appetizer ideas, a cocktail recipe and a stunning dessert recipe from Amy Atlas.  Even though I have shared pictures of a popcorn bar in a previous blog post I had to included some fun popcorn recipes as well since no oscar viewing party would be complete without popcorn!


1) Three Different Types of Crostini
Left- Sweet Potato & Feta Crostini; Center- Pear, Walnut, and Ricotta Crostini;
Right- Kale & White Bean Crostini

 2) Baked Mozzarella Bites
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Oh, Sweet Basil

3) Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli
Photo & Recipe courtesy of: Lifestyle 365
For other great appetizer recipes check out Buzzfeed's "29 Quick And Easy Oscar Party Appetizers"


Red Carpet-ini
Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Taste of Home
Fun and easy cocktail idea. I always love the look of raspberries in a champagne flute.  I would substitute prosecco or sparkling wine for champagne if you are looking for an cheaper alternative. 

Main Course

Cheesy Spinach and Chicken Sliders 
Photo & recipe courtesy of: Thoughtfully Simple

Oscar parties are all about the finger food so  I liked the idea of having chicken sliders as the main course. I really liked how Tori from Thoughtfully Simple added some gold striped washi tape to wooden knives, which makes the sliders more festive and ties into the gold oscar theme. I also like that the blog post mentions that the grilled chicken strips can be found at Costco, which is a great resource if you having a lot of people over and want to get large quantities of food at a great price. 

"walk of fame" brownies

Photo & Recipe Courtesy of: Amy Atlas
I'm a big fan of Amy Atlas and am obsessed with the dessert tables showcased in her book,
Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It. This brownie recipe looks pretty easy and the gold glitter painted on top of the brownies makes this the perfect addition to your oscar party. I also love the idea of using movie tickets to line your platter. 

Last, but certainly not least: Popcorn!

Photo Courtesy of: Get Party Chic

For some fun and unique popcorn recipes check out Buzzfeed's "5 Fabulous Popcorn Recipes For An Oscars Party". I personally want to try the S'mores Popcorn. Get some cute popcorn boxes and you got your self a fun way to serve popcorn. 

Looking for some decor inspiration? check out this previous blog post. 

Will you be watching the Oscars on Sunday? Share with me your favorite Oscar Party recipes in the comments section below. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chinese New Year Menu Ideas

Since Chinese New Year starts on Thursday I thought I would share some favorite Chinese takeout dishes that you can make your self at home. I know this feels a little like deja vu since i recently shared some homemade thai dishes, but I promise these recipes are different. If you are hosting a Chinese New Year party you can also look back at this blog post for some inspiration.

1) Wanton Soup

Photo & recipe courtesy of: The Lemon Bowl

2)  General Tso's Chicken

Photo & recipe courtesy of: A Beautiful Mess

3) Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

Photo & recipe courtesy of: Food and New York City

4) Sesame Shrimp 

Photo & recipe courtesy of: Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice

5) Fried Rice

Photo & Recipe Courtesy Of: Table For Two

6) Sweet & Sour Pork

Photo & Recipe courtesy of: