Month: August 2014

A Tree-Hugging Trader Joe’s Review

So. We’re back from vacation. School is about to start. Summer is coming to a close. Things are changing. I should be able to keep up with my blog posts now, right? RIGHT?! Right.

Back to biz.

You guys know I have a serious sweet tooth. It’s well documented. You might not know that I also have a health food tooth (I feel like that’s less sparkly and lovely than a sweet tooth). Is that a thing? I love all vegetables, fruit, tofu, and other healthy fare.

Salad is one of my top favorite foods. I love going to salad buffets. And eating all their yummy veg. I even love beets. BEETS. Even as a kid I loved them. If you don’t like them, I have recipes that will forever change your mind about them.

I digress.

I went to Trader Joe’s this past week to try their healthier food (and some not so healthy food…blog posts on those to follow).

My kids love dried fruit as snacks. My Mom dries her own fruit and it’s delicious. Since I don’t have a dehydrator, I don’t mind buying them (or eating my Mom’s).

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We tried the TJ’s Dried Flattened Banana. I’ve never had this before now. They were really good, like banana fruit roll ups (if you rolled them up). The ingredients were bananas and something to keep them from browning. At $1.29, it was a bargain.

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Organic Banana Chips: They were good, crunchy, and delicious. Like any ol’ banana chips. They were $2.99 and there were a lot. I’d call it a deal.

Dried Sweet New Zealand Apples: These were delicious. Despite only having apples (several different varieties) as the only ingredient, when I opened the bag, they smelled like fall. They were chewy, moist, and full of apple flavor.  And the bag wasn’t skimpy on quantity. Also priced at $2.99, I think they were a deal.

Dried Fruit Mandarins Soft & Juicy: I’ve never had these before either. These were the only dried fruits we tried that had sugar as an ingredient. I’d serve these more for a lunch dessert. When I opened the package, the fresh, bright, citrusy scent of mandarin oranges hit my nose. The flavor copied that. They were delicious and sweet. They cost $2.69. I’d get them again.

Freeze Dried Mango: The only ingredient was mango. I like to see that. They were crunchy and yielded a nice bite, but also melted in my mouth (like most freeze dried fruit). They were also delicious. They also cost $2.69.

Lastly for the fruit and nuts category, we got some slivered almonds. They were delicious and like any other slivered almond. I like to put these on my oatmeal and in granola bars. I got quite a bit for $3.69.

I’d get all of those again.

I also picked up some gluten free pasta. Trader Joe’s has a good selection of such pastas. They offer both brown rice and corn pastas (perhaps more, but those are all I looked for). They had different shapes too – fusilli, penne, spaghetti. It’s great to see GF pasta becoming more mainstream.

I picked up a box of brown rice penne, brown rice fusilli, and brown rice spaghetti. They were $1.99 each (which is comparable to Aldi’s and far better than grocery store prices).

A few nights ago, we tried the brown rice spaghetti.

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It was delicious. I love that they give you a whole pound. Some GF pastas come in smaller packages. It was nice to feed the whole family from this (very cheap for GF) pack.

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It was delicious. We really couldn’t tell the difference between this pasta and flour-based pasta, in the best way possible.

It’s a must-buy for us now.

I also restocked my TJ’s sprouted tofu. I can’t wait to eat that. It, too, was delicious, the last time I made it.

Enjoy your day, go hug a tree, and eat something healthy!

Blessings,

Kristin

The Lunch Lady and her Cupcakes

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I am continuing the theme of peanut butter, if you don’t mind. I’m sure you don’t. Who would? And if you do mind, then you must not like peanut butter, and you might not also like marshmallow fluff from the jar, or even jelly. And then what kind of person would you be?

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On my last bloggy post, I talked about peanut butter by itself, and shared a PB cookie recipe. This post is about peanut butter with jelly. I love peanut butter and jelly. I love it on a sandwich. I love it when it’s made into other things (candy, cookies, cake, etc.). I love the combination. There is just something about the soft bread, nutty, almost salty spread, and sweet jelly. Did you know that the average American will have consumed 1,500 PB&J sandwiches by the time they turn 18? I believe it! That statistic might even be doubled in my house!

Yes, our love for PB&J sandwiches runs deep.

I think I also love the connection between them and cafeterias and school lunches. You may remember my love for all things cafeteria. I’m sure my love for the two are somehow tethered together. Do you remember your Lunch Lady from school? Was she scary? They are always scary in the books I read, growing up. I’m not sure why she’s made out to be the villain. Perhaps, because she’s the one slopping up that quintessentially icky cafeteria food (which I happen to find both delightful and intriguing)?

I bet if your Lunch Lady served these cupcakes, as a lunch dessert, instead of that old stale cookie, you’d love her. You would probably lose your fear for her sweaty-plastic-glove-and-hairnet-wearing self.

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You’d probably want to envelope her in a huge hug, thanking her for making these wonderfully clever and delicious cupcakes.

You’d probably ask her if she had any icy, cold milk to go with these.

This is starting to sound like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

But trust me. You’d ask for milk, and a hug, and another cupcake for the road.

Probably. Or maybe that’s just me.

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I made these cupcakes for our Friday playdate. We ate them in celebration of my Small’s 2nd birthday (which was earlier in the week).

The actual cupcake was rich, and dense, and peanut-buttery, in all the best ways. When they were baking, the most amazing smells were filling my house. One had to have been a peanut butter lover to really enjoy this cupcake.

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The frosting was a light and fluffy, creamy, peanut-buttery buttercream. It took the cupcakes to another level.

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After liberally frosting them, I put a dollop of grape jelly on some and raspberry jelly on others. It cut the peanut butter flavor and really made these taste like the upgraded version of a PB&J sandwich.

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I think everyone enjoyed them. I sure did. They were wonderful, and not difficult to make at all.

I highly recommend them!

Here is the recipe:

http://cookiesandcups.com/the-lunchtime-cupcake/

I changed it a little. I did not put a filling inside the cupcake. I doubled the cake recipe (to make 24) and halved the frosting recipe. These kids did not need sky-high frosting! These cupcakes would be delicious with crunchy PB (I always fear that if I am making them for little mouths, they could potentially choke on peanut pieces, so I stick [get it? stick, like stick to the roof of your mouth!?!!] with creamy) and also with marshmallow fluff instead of jelly…or both.

Have a blessed Saturday and may it be as fun as these cakes!

Kristin