Tag Archives: trader joe’s

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Almond Ice Cream

ice-cream-3

Recently, we discovered that our son has become lactose intolerant. This is not really a surprise, as I’ve had this condition since my early twenties and it runs in my family. Lactose intolerance isn’t the same as an allergy – we just don’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose found in milk. An easy way around it if we still want to eat things with milk and cream in it is to take a lactase pill at the same time.

Another way is to just substitute non-dairy items into our diet. I love coconut milk and almond milk and often drink that instead. And we both drink lactose free milk.

My son also loves the flavor of coffee and he really wanted to make a coffee flavored ice cream. We decided on mocha, since I didn’t want to go overboard with the coffee flavor — even decaf. And we both wanted to add almonds and chocolate chips, because – why not!?

I based this recipe on a vegan one from thekitchn.com and altered it. To flavor it, I used Trader Joe’s Sipping cocoa, but I’m sure other cocoas would work. This is a seasonal item that we always buy and stock up on in the winter. It has a wonderful chocolate flavor and is not too sweet.

The result is a delicious, dairy-free dessert which is not too sweet, but very creamy and rich. The chopped almonds and chocolate chip add another layer of crunchy texture. Next time we make it, we want to add mini marshmallows and make it a Mocha Rocky Road number!

ice-cream-2

Vegan Mocha Coconut Almond Ice Cream

2 14 oz. cans full fat coconut milk

1/4 cup agave syrup

3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Sipping Cocoa or other cocoa mix

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon decaf instant coffee

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped roasted salted almonds

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Shake the cans of coconut milk very well. Measure out 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and set aside.
  2. Heat the rest of the coconut milk, agave, instant coffee, and cocoas in a medium saucepan on the stove. Whisk constantly until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add cornstarch to remaining coconut milk and whisk until fully incorporated. Add to saucepan and cook stirring constantly for about 6-8 minutes until mixture is thickened. It should to thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with saran wrap, pressing to surface of chocolate so that a skin doesn’t form. Chill over night.
  5. Churn mixture in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions until you have a soft ice cream texture. Stir in chopped almonds and chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer to a freezing container and freeze for several hours to harden and serve.

Makes about one pint

ice-cream-1

 

 

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Filed under Children, Desserts

Pumpkin Custard for Breakfast

pumpkin custard2

Pumpkin is officially in season now! Have you see all the pumpkin products at Trader Joe’s alone?  I’m intrigued by the pumpkin cookie butter, but I haven’t bought any yet.  I stock up on their canned organic pumpkin this time of year though, because it’s always great to have on hand, and not only for pumpkin pie.

I’m trying to get more veggies into all of meals, even breakfast. AND I recently had to have dental work and gum surgery, so soft foods have been a must. 😦

I’ve been enjoying this warm pumpkin custard for breakfasts as well as dessert!  It’s pretty high in protein and low in sugar, so I don’t feel guilty eating it first thing in the morning to start my day.  And since the weather is turning colder, it is such a comforting meal to warm you up!

 

Pumpkin Custard

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or one egg white

1 tablespoon milk

Stevia or other sweetener

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

dash of pumpkin spice

Non-stick spray

  1.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Spray a large ramekin or bowl or two small ramekins with non-stick spray.  Pour custard in taking care to leave about 1/2 ” space at the top.
  3. Microwave in 30 second intervals until cooked. Depending on your microwave and whether you cook the custard in two ramekins or one, it should take about 90 seconds – 2 1/2 minutes.

 

 

11 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Easy as Pie Ice Cream Cake

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Our son turned eleven while we were on our cruise to the Bahamas, so we decided to celebrate it at home later in the summer.  My son has never been a cake fan. From the time he was a toddler, he has been fobbing off remnants of cake for his mom and dad to finish at every birthday party. He and I decided an ice cream cake would be best for his birthday, because he loves ice cream — he always eats it with a fork even when it’s served in a bowl!

As usual these days, I was swamped with work and had a big book deadline on top of travel plans right before the celebration!  I found a solution, though, with this cake, which can be prepared days in advance.

The base is a brownie layer which you can make from a mix or from scratch. Here is my recipe for a decadent Truffle Brownie. Because I was pressed for time, I used Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie mix. Then after I baked the brownie layer and let it cool completely, I spooned softened Cookies and Cream ice cream on top and smoothed.  I froze the cake until hardened, then melted chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in two separate bowls in the microwave.  The white chocolate chips did not melt properly, and I thought it was a fail, but I crumbled them on top, and it was actually quite tasty! I was able to wrap the whole thing pan and all in saran and foil and store in the freezer for a few days.

An important thing to note is to use a spring form pan — the kind used for cheesecakes. When you are ready to serve the cake, simply release the sides and remove the bottom.  If you don’t have a spring form pan, you could line a cake pan with saran and remove the cake and peel off the saran when ready to serve. But you won’t have as crisp an edge. Do not thaw this cake before serving!  It is best to serve immediately after removing from the freezer while the ice cream is hard.  Otherwise, cutting gets very messy!

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.

The cake was a hit and there were no leftovers on plates for the parents, so we had to get our own slices!

Easy Ice Cream Cake

1 package of brownie mix

1/2 gallon container of ice cream

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

non-stick spray

whipped cream (optional) for garnish

  1.  Spray non-stick spray in spring form pan and set aside.  Or line a cake pan with saran.
  2. Preheat oven and prepare brownies according to package.
  3. Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Bake brownie layer and cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, let ice cream thaw for about 25 minutes while brownie layer is cooling.
  5. Spoon ice cream on top of brownie layer and smooth with an offset spatula or spoon.  Freeze until hardened.
  6. Melt chocolates separately in two bowls at 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, spoon chocolate in center of cake and smooth out.  Top with white chocolate crumbles.
  7. Wrap cake in saran and foil and freeze until hardened.
  8. When serving, do not thaw cake! Release spring form pan and remove bottom.  Or if using a cake pan, lift cake out of pan with saran and remove saran wrap.  Cut cake immediately while ice cream is still hard and serve. Enjoy!

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Filed under Desserts

Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce for the Busy Person

Not the prettiest but oh so delicious!

Not the prettiest but oh so delicious!

Happy to start the new year with lots of projects, but that means I need to cook fast!

This has been my go-to super fast lunch for awhile now, and I thought I’d share the recipe here.  It is really easy to make if you have all the ingredients on hand. I usually make just one serving at a time, but you could double or quadruple the recipe pretty easily.

Have you seen the raw broccoli slaw they sell these days in the refrigerated section?  I still prefer my broccoli cooked, but I love the convenience of having it already washed and sliced thinly for stir fries.  I par cook the broccoli in the microwave for about 2 minutes with a spritz of water.  Then I fry it in just a smidgen of sesame oil for flavor in a non-stick pan and add a slice of firm tofu, and an egg white.  As the white cooks, I break it up along with the tofu and season with a bit of soy sauce.  Then I stir it all together with a peanut sauce I make.  You can use this peanut sauce recipe I use for my Asian Chicken Salad with Peanut Noodles, and use as needed.  Or you could just make a bit of sauce fresh (which I’ve been doing) of some peanut butter, peanut flour, coconut milk, and a bit more soy sauce.  In the above picture, I added some leftover shirataki noodles to the mix.  I’m doing a bit of low carbing these days, trying to lose some holiday weight….

Here is the recipe for a single serving:

Easy Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

1 1/2 cups of broccoli slaw (I use Trader Joe’s)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 slice of firm tofu

1 egg white (I use liquid whites)

2 teaspoons soy sauce, divided

For sauce:

1 teaspoon peanut butter

2 teaspoons peanut flour (alternatively, just use 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for the sauce)

1 tablespoon coconut milk or water

1.  Steam the broccoli slaw in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

2.  Heat sesame oil in a non-stick pan.  Add broccoli, tofu, egg white, and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.  Let whites harden a bit, then stir together and break up tofu into pieces.

3.  Remove from heat and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, peanut flour (or just 1 tablespoon peanut butter) with coconut milk or water and the rest of the soy sauce (1 teaspoon).

4.   Pour over cooked vegetable mixture and stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving

And here’s a small “sketch” I did of a dad I saw at Starbucks last weekend — just because….  🙂

DAD and babya

12 Comments

Filed under Eggs, Lunch, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Best Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Ever and Baked Tortilla Chips

chip in salsa

I have made this salsa exactly four times since I saw this recipe from What’s  Gaby Cooking a month ago!  I made it a bit easier for myself by omitting the cherry tomatoes and reducing the amounts of garlic, cilantro, chipotle, and lime juice.  In the past I have shied away from using chipotles, not because of the heat, but because it comes in a can full of them, and you only need one or two at the most!  I made  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas for a party, and I still had extra chiles.  Luckily, I learned that they can be frozen for future use!  Brilliant!  The key thing is to line your ice cube tray with saran first, as I learned here.  The sauce stains and everything is really spicy!  I defrost and use a cube at a time (about one chile).

Doesn't it look like some strange fossil?

Doesn’t it look like some strange fossil or worse– preserved organ?!

Throw the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times and there you have it — perfect salsa.  Use more chiles if you want it spicier.  The fire roasted tomatoes give it a really nice rich flavor.  I used a can from Trader Joes.

fire roasted tomatoes

Serve with bagged tortilla chips, or make your own!  I also put salsa on everything else:  Eggs, veggies — both raw and cooked…  I can literally eat it by itself, I love it so much!
baked tortilla chipsFire Roasted Tomato Salsa

1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes

1 chipotle chile (or more if you want it spicier– one is pretty spicy though!)

1/2 medium onion chopped

1/4 cup cilantro with stems

1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

pinch of kosher salt to taste

1.  Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10 times.

2.  Serve immediately with chips or store in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Baked Tortilla Chips

Corn tortillas

Non-stick spray

kosher salt

 

1.  Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F.

2.  Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray and set aside

3.  Stack up to four tortillas at a time and cut into 8 to 10 triangles (I like 10 for thinner chips)

4.  Lay in one layer on prepared baking sheet.  Spray with non-stick spray and sprinkle with salt.

5.  Bake for about 5 minutes, then watch closely and bake 1-3 minutes more until tan around the edges.  Transfer to a plate to cool and crisp up.

6. Repeat with remaining triangles until used up.

7.  Serve immediately.  Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.  If they lose a bit of crunch due to humidity, toast in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes before serving.

 

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Filed under Appetizers, Snack

Microwave Pumpkin Breakfast Cake

This cake can be made in 2 minutes!

This cake can be made in 2 minutes

I’m traveling and visiting family at the moment, so this will be short and sweet!  As some of you might have already seen, there are a ton of cake in the mug recipes all over the web.  They are wonderful for college kids whose only cooking appliance is a microwave.  But I have been having fun making versions of this cake for my breakfasts.  Now that it’s so cold, I haven’t been having my protein smoothie as often.  I was also inspired by fellow blogger Wild Blue Wonder’s yummy pumpkin oats and sometimes make the cake with oats.

You can improvise with the recipe, substituting almond meal, rice flour, or other flour in place of the flour or oats and make it gluten free.  Here is a Paleo gluten free chocolate one that sounds good.

I used pumpkin puree, some almond meal, and a bit of TJ’s multigrain pancake mix.  I cook mine in a large ramekin.  Because I use so little flour, it has a real moist texture that is close to a bread pudding.  It’s so warm and comforting and delicious.

pumpkin cake

Hope everyone (in the U.S.)  has a wonderful Thanksgiving Thursday!  If you don’t celebrate, you can still enjoy some whipped cream with a piece of pumpkin pie. 🙂

Thanksgiving_Melissa2

Microwave Pumpkin Breakfast Cake

pumpkin cake close 2

2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, other oil, or melted butter

2 tablespoons liquid egg white (or just use an egg)

cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice to taste

sprinkle of stevia or 2 teaspoons sugar

couple drops of vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon almond meal

1 tablespoon pancake mix

(alternatively, use 2 tablespoons flour, GF flour, or other flour or combination)

1.  Mix all ingredients in a mug and microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds, checking after a minute.  Depends on the strength of your microwave.

Another way to do it is to mix everything in a bowl and transfer to a ramekin sprayed with nonstick spray and then microwave.

Makes one small single serving.  It’s so yummy with pumpkin butter smeared on top! 🙂

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Filed under Breakfast, Vegetarian

Asian Quinoa Salad

quinoa salad


Though it’s been oppressively hot and humid in NYC recently, we’ve still found opportunities to grill.  Well, Denis does the grilling.  🙂  I just do the prep!

Along with the requisite hamburgers and hotdogs, we often make our Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken — an old favorite.

focus-on-the-chicken

French Potato Salad is also always a crowd pleaser.

potato-saladLast week I came up with a new recipe to add to the summer barbecue line up:  Asian Quinoa Salad.

I bought this bag of red quinoa awhile ago at Trader Joe’s and wanted to make something with it.

quinoaAny quinoa would work though.  This salad is simple:  Just cook the quinoa in liquid (I like using homemade chicken stock for the rich flavor).  Then add seasonings.  Voila! You have a refreshing summer salad side dish!  This recipe could easily be doubled.

Stay cool and enjoy!

Asian Quinoa Salad

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Kosher salt to taste

1 scallion, minced

1/4 to 1/3 cooked edamame

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1.  Place quinoa in stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked (try tasting a bit).

2.  Whisk sesame oil and vinegar together.  Toss with quinoa and other ingredients.

Makes about 6 small side servings.

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Filed under chicken, Dinner, Grains, Sides

Really Easy Asian Won Ton Soup

wonton up close

It’s April and we’ve seen teasing glimpses of spring, but it’s cold and rainy again today…

This means it’s still soup weather!

Here is the easiest soup in the world– especially if you use pre-made wontons.  My friend Judy of Bebe Loves Okazu has a wonderful homemade recipe here.  You can make these and freeze uncooked wontons on a plate.  When frozen,  transfer to a ziploc bag to have on hand for later use. They can be plopped into the broth and simmered in the soup–no need for thawing.

Today, I was lazy, and I used Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons.  I also defrosted some homemade chicken broth.

I simmered the frozen mini wontons in the broth and added some chopped frozen spinach, cubed tofu, a couple of slivers of fresh ginger.  When it was all heated through, I added a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil and garnished with chopped scallions.  So warming and delicious — perfect for a cold, rainy spring day!

wonton soup

Really Easy Asian Wonton Soup

Note:  You can use whatever you have in your freezer or vegetable bin — try meatballs instead, or use snow peas or frozen peas or edamame.  You can’t go wrong either way!

About 2 cups of chicken broth (or other broth)

knob of ginger sliced thinly and jullienned

a handful of wontons

a handful of tofu cubes

a handful of chopped frozen spinach or other vegetable that can cook quickly

a dash of soy sauce (to taste)

a dash of sesame oil (to taste)

a spring of scallion, finely diced

1.  Heat broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add wontons or other cooked meat, tofu, chopped spinach or other vegetable. Simmer until cooked and heated through, about 6-8 minutes.  Add soy sauce and sesame oil.  Garnish with scallions.  Serve.

Makes 2 servings.

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Easy Weeknight Pork Enchilada Casserole

Ooey and gooey, and yummy

Ooey and gooey, and yummy


Imagine this:  It’s a weeknight and you need to make dinner fast.  Instead of take out (which actually takes some time because you have to order and then go pick it up or wait for it to be delivered), make this!

I used leftover slow cooker pork shoulder, but you could easily use shredded rotisserie chicken instead.

I was inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light.  Instead of seasoned ground beef, I used pre-cooked pork, and instead of the enchilada sauce, I got really lazy and used bottled barbecue sauce.  We love Trader Joe’s Bold and Smoky Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.  It’s tangy and tasty, but not spicy (for the little one).  tj sauce

Saute some onions, and mix in the pork or chicken and the barbecue sauce.  Add a handful of cheese.  Layer mixture in pie pan with flour tortillas. Top with a bit more sauce and cheese and bake until melted.  Easy peasy!

In the pie pan

In the pie pan

Cut into wedges and serve.

ooey gooey up close

Easy Weeknight Pork Enchilada Casserole

Non-stick spray

¼ cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon oil

2 ½ cups leftover pulled pork (see recipe here) or shredded rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup barbecue sauce

4 flour tortillas

1/2 cup grated cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a pie dish with spray. Set aside.
  2. Sauté onion with oil in a large pan until soft.  Add pork and 1/3 cup of the barbecue sauce. Stir together to combine and sauté gently until heated through.  Stir in a handful of the grated cheese, and remove pan from heat and set aside.
  3. Place one tortilla in pie dish.  Spread 1/3 of pork mixture on top. I divide the mixture in the pan first by making a “peace” sign with three equal portions, so I have a clear idea of what 1/3 of the total is.   Cover with another flour tortilla.  Continue to layer with another  1/3 of pork mixture, another tortilla, and last 1/3 of pork mixture.  Cover with last tortilla.
  4. Spread rest of  barbecue sauce on top layer.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until cheese melts.  Cut into wedges and serve.

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Filed under chicken, Dinner, Pork

Pea Soup Andersen’s Inspired Slow Cooker Pea Soup


It’s getting colder each day here in New York — you know what that means:  Perfect soup weather!  It’s our favorite thing to eat this time of year.

Jamie’s favorite soup – vegetable soup with alphabet pasta – inspired me to write and illustrate Soup Day.

The recipe is at the end of the story.

Other tasty soups to warm you in cold weather:

French Onion Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup

Creamy Green Soup

Butternut Squash Harvest Soup

Last week I was going through our pantry to collect food to donate to areas in our neighborhood which had been had been hit hard by the hurricane.  Among the things I came across was a half filled container of dried peas. I had no idea which presidential administration they were from– perhaps the Clinton era?  I decided to risk it and try to make some pea soup in my slow cooker.
A lot of recipes I came across called for a ham hock thrown in, but I was too busy to go on a hunt for one, so I used 1/2 cup chopped apple smoked cured nitrite free bacon from Trader Joe’s.  It was about 4 slices, and I trimmed off the excess fat.

I based my recipe on this one, because it mentioned Pea Soup Andersen’s – a beloved roadside restaurant in the Central Coast of California where I am from.

Jamie and I posing as Happea and Pea-wee in the parking lot.

It didn’t call for ham hock or bacon, but I decided to throw in some bacon just the same.  I also used 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water instead of all water, and I decided to cook it in my slow cooker instead of on the stove.

The resulting soup was smoky, flavorful, and creamy — just as good as its inspiration!  The amount of dried peas I used cost about $.75, so the whole batch cost about $3.25!  It made about ten generous portions, half of which I have stored in our freezer for future winter days.

If you are ever on the Central Coast, though, tootling along the 101, do stop by and check out Pea Soup Andersen’s.  It’s not just the soup and sharp cheddar sold there that are  great — the whole atmosphere of the restaurant and gift shop is unique.  Just a few miles away is Solvang, a town filled with restaurants, toy stores, bakeries, and gift shops built in the traditional Danish style of architecture.  It is kind of like walking into part of an amusement park–kitschy but cute.  (I think it is the reason why I never had a phobia of dentists — my childhood dentist had a practice there and I loved visiting all the gift stores and eating Ebleskevers afterwards!)  🙂


Pea Soup Andersen’s Inspired Slow Cooker Pea Soup

4 slices smoked bacon trimmed of fat and chopped up, about ½ cup

2 cups dried peas, rinsed and cleared of debris

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 celery rib, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

¼  teaspoon dried thyme

salt

pepper to taste

  1. Pour everything into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about 8-10 hours or high for about 6-8 hours.  Check to see how soft the peas are.  I cooked mine for low on 2 hours, but they didn’t seem to be getting soft and I knew they were really old!  So I cooked them on high for the next 4 hours.
  2. Remove bay leaf.  Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth (only fill blender half-way and leave an open vent at the top, either covering with a towel or using a lid with a vent – alternatively, use an immersion blender instead!).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Reheat and serve.

Makes at least 10 generous servings.
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Filed under Soup, Soup, Travel