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So much to love at Trader Joe’s

Over the years, I’ve had many people ask me about my favorite products at Trader Joe’s.

A much simpler question would be to ask what products I don’t like.

From the moment you walk in the door, the beautiful variety of fresh flowers, potted plants and seasonal items awaken your senses. They are there for the taking, at prices that make them irresistible.

It sets the pace for the rest of the shopping experience. For me, that experience is quality items and deals that only Costco can compete with. The difference between the two is the variety – Trader Joe’s wins on that front. Then there’s the quantity. I don’t always want to by a 5-pound bag of pine nuts, sometimes an 8-ounce package does the trick.

I’ll take you on my tour of “My Favorite Things – Trader Joe’s Edition” the same way I walk through the store when I’m actually shopping. The fresh produce and cheese/deli cases are next to the flowers.

I won’t buy Belgian endive anywhere else and I use it all the time for appetizers.

These are the teeny tiny potatoes I use for my Caesar Dip. Love them!

I can’t begin to tell you how many boxes of their basil I’ve bought over the years. You can buy regular, organic or even a potted plant of basil. Trader Joe’s is all about options!

Speaking of options, when I posted this recipe, the TJ’s in my area weren’t carrying shishito peppers, now they are!  On to the cheese…

I prefer white cheddar. The selection is great  – and I’ve tried them all.

Fontina, Mozzarella, Iberico, Manchego and Chevre are my other must-haves.

Where else can you find so many choices of smoked salmon?

… and prosciutto?

Pancetta is hard to find… except at Trader Joe’s. This cubed pancetta is always in my refrigerator!

There are more varieties of hummus than you could try in a month!

Across from the produce is the bread. I don’t usually have bread in the house. I only buy it when I need it for a recipe. The three types I usually end up with are the baguettes and Challah.

And during the holidays, I always need buttery brioche.

If it’s a crazy day and I don’t have time to make either lunch or dinner, the Field Fresh Chopped Salad or the Veggie Wrap are my go-to.

We’ll turn the corner and get my “only buy at Trader Joe’s” items found in the dairy case. Butter and heavy cream.

Only one time (during the holidays a few years back) did I run into a situation where the store was out of their “pink lid” heavy cream. I had heart palpitations and ended up driving to the next closest store, because I will NOT buy it elsewhere.

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November 7, 2017   1 Comment

October, you forsake me

Each time I commit myself to get back in the blogging groove, something comes along and trips me up.

October, my birth month and historically my favorite month of the year, got off to a tragic start. My older brother, Dennis, passed away.

Dennis and I were close when we were young. When I say close, I mean that we’d alternately fight and get along, exactly like you’d expect siblings who are 18 months apart to fight and get along.

It was just the two of us for about 4 years, then Andy came along and a couple of years later, I finally got my baby sister, Sloane.

Dennis drifted in and our of our family and our lives but not before he left the world a beautiful legacy, his four amazing sons; Joel, Ben, David and Jeremy. I adore my nephews. I was still in high school when Joel was born. He was my baby doll. Those cute little OshKosh B’Gosh boys are now 39, 37, 35 and 33 years old and live in and around Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Dad, Sloane and I traveled to Idaho this past weekend to deliver Dennis’s ashes and belongings to his sons. Dad is in the photo above with my beloved sister-in-law, Teresa. Ben, David, Jeremy and Joel (on the floor) are there, along with Dad’s great-grandkids; Joby, Kelton, Elijah, Aleea and Dominic. Yes, Dennis most definitely left behind a beautiful legacy. Rest in peace, big brother. [Read more →]


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November 6, 2017   12 Comments

Shirley’s dessert

This is Shirley with her favorite Trader Joe’s cookies, they are Triple Ginger Cookie Thins and they are what Shirley uses for her Margarita Tart crust.

I bought a box, Shirley sent me her recipe and I made it last weekend. The family loved it, so now I share it with you. Thank you, Shirley! xoxo

 

One item I love to use when baking pies or using a springform pan is this wonderful rack that catches any drips.

Shirley’s Margarita Tart

Crust

  • 2 cups cookie crumbs made from Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Cookie Thins
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Two 14-ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup lime juice (from 4 to 6 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon Tequila

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lime slices and strawberries, garnish

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Crust: In a medium bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter.

Press into a 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking rack or baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

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October 25, 2017   2 Comments

shopping!

I had such a great day shopping with Blogiversary winners, Shirley, Laura and Maggie!

From left to right –

Shirley: Shirley is a longtime student of mine. She attends all my series classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School and is the most lovely woman! I adore her in classes and I adored spending the day with her too!

Laura: I have known Laura for more than 20 years. We met as members of the Phoenix Junior League – way back when. Laura joined my committee when I chaired the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Beach Ball in 1997. The Beach Ball is celebrating its 25 anniversary with the 2018 event on March 3rd. Although Laura and I have not seen each other in years, hers is the first Christmas card I receive each and every year, on the day after Thanksgiving!

Maggie: I met Maggie for the first time on Monday morning at the Trader Joe’s at Tatum and Shea were we met up to begin our day of shopping. Maggie found the blog while looking for a “knockoff recipe” for True Food Kitchen’s Mediterranean Chopped Salad and has come back ever since. Although Maggie is substantially younger than the rest of us (she has three young kids, including a 3-year old!) she fit right in and was an absolute doll!

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October 20, 2017   3 Comments

field trip shopping day is here!

Today is the day I finally get to take Laura, Maggie and Shirley on the 8th Blogiversary Shopping Field Trip!

I’ve got their Trader Joe’s 50th Anniversary bags locked and loaded with $100 each.

These bags are the perfect example of why I love Trader Joe’s. The bags were sold to celebrate their golden anniversary and instead of charging more for the limited edition bags, they charged less! Regular TJ’s bags cost a mere $1. These special bags cost only fifty cents! TJ’s Is The Best!

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October 16, 2017   2 Comments

my favorite time of the year

October 5, 2017   1 Comment

margarita time

Tram & Steve invited me over for Taco Night, they are the sweetest! I asked Tram if I could contribute an exotic margarita for the night. She, of course, said yes.

I found a recipe on Epicurious.com. I made one cocktail as written and found it to be much too strong and not as special or exotic as I had hoped. It needed some lime juice and some sweetness to bring it up to the place I knew it could be.

This photo does not include the additions I made to the cocktail, lime juice and a berry simple syrup, but those ingredients are there in the final version of the cocktail that I brought to dinner.

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October 2, 2017   2 Comments

cooking class winner

It took some teamwork to pick the winner of the cooking class with Chef Danielle Leoni at Les Gourmettes Cooking School. Okay, not as much teamwork as frustration, but we made it happen.

There were eight entries: Amy G, Betsy S, Dorinne D, Elyse G, Ginger T, Laura M, Patti T and Sharon L.

I crumbled up each name with the intent of turning them into cat toys.

 

Bombay and Bailey were called into action. Whichever ball of paper was knocked off the table first, the person whose name was on the paper, would be the winner. Unfortunately, they were not as interested in playing with their new toys as I had hoped they would be. I ended up having to toss a couple of kitty snacks in the mix to even get them up on the table.

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September 27, 2017   3 Comments

are you a winner?!?

It was only a month ago that I held a contest for my 8th Blogiversary and here I am – at it again!

This time, it is Barbara Fenzl, owner of Les Gourmettes, who is graciously and generously donating the fabulous prize. I’ll get to the details about the prize and how easy it is for you to have a chance to win it in just a moment.

This is the current issue of Edible PHOENIX. The publisher and editor, Pamela Hamilton along with featured contributor, Sharon Salomon, Barb Fenzl and I are all members of Les Dames d’Escoffier International.

Every now and then, Sharon will ask me for quotes or thoughts about an upcoming article she is working on. This was the case for her most recipe article titled, “Step Away From the Recipe! Try Your Hand at Intuitive Cooking”

Thank you Sharon for featuring me in your excellent article!

This clever segue leads us to the contest and the prize. Barb is offering one FREE seat in an upcoming cooking class with Chef Danielle Leoni.  Coincidentally, Danielle became one of our newest Les Dames members this past Monday night. This prize will most certainly hone your cooking skills and aid you on your way to more intuitive cooking.

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September 20, 2017   11 Comments

Salsa de Peggy

While Anne, Peggy and I  were vacationing in Carlsbad last month, Peggy made her famous salsa. Lucky us! I took notes and happily share it with you.

Peggy insists that one thing is an absolute must for her salsa.

You must use only chiltepin chile peppers! They can be hard to find and are more expensive than that other little pepper easily found in grocery stores, the chile pequin. The pequin is nothing like the chiltepin, so don’t bother using it as a substitute.

The chiltepins are what make this an authentic Sonoran salsa. You can find them at Food City or on Amazon. To read more about the chiltepin and the salsa, check out this article from Edible Baja Arizona.

Peggy also prefers to use a mortar and pestle to crush the peppers and the garlic. Mine is packed away, so I opted for a cocktail muddler and measuring cup.

Alternately, you could start an empty food processor or blender, and while it is running, drop the garlic cloves and chiltepins through the feed tube into the empty machine and let it do the work for you.

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September 13, 2017   5 Comments