Casserole class: DIY quick, easy, delicious

18 Jan Your mini-casserole is ready to eat once the cheese melts.

It all started with one of the biggest sweet potatoes I’ve ever seen (sadly, no picture). I knew I wanted to something special with this oversized tuber. It deserved it.

I decided a few things: It would be mashed; it would partner with poached chicken, and it may or may not involve cheese.

This is what happened next:

  • Step 1: I poached two large chicken thighs in the microwave for about 30 mins. Then cut it into small pieces.
  • Step 2: I cut up the potato leaving the skin on, and boiled it in the water I used to poach the chicken – an environmentally good thing, and more flavor to the potato.
  • Step 3: I mashed the potato, chopped up some sweet onion, put the raw onion into the steaming mashed potato where it cooked from the heat which tamed its flavor but kept its crunch.
  • Step 4/ASSEMBLY: I ladled a layer of the chicken on a plate, smothered it with the mashed sweet potato, sprinkled with a little salt and shredded cheese. And voila: A single-serve, DIY mini casserole, made to order per serving!
The beginning of a DIY casserole

The layering begins. First chicken, then mashed sweet potatoes.

Next comes the cheese to cover the chicken and mashed sweet potatoes. A mini-casserole is born!

Next comes the cheese. And voila. A mini casserole is born!

Your mini-casserole is ready to eat once the cheese melts.

Heat and eat!

The potato was so big, it made several meals for a few people, and each subsequent meal took about 1-2 minutes assembly time with 1 minute to heat in the microwave. Anti-microwave? Then, about 5 minutes in a hot oven or skillet.

BONUS: Because it’s made per person per meal, it’s super flexible – cheese/no cheese; add hot sauce or top with yogurt or sour cream. Add steamed spinach. Go crazy! Let us know what you’d include in your DIY casserole. And enjoy. 🙂

 

 

 

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Epic Bars: Stylish snacking

8 Dec

epicbars

You know what these are. You might deny it, but, come on. You can tell.

Even with the sleek packaging and the cool name promising an “Epic” experience, (though it delivers), you know.

It’s clear even though each parcel is veiled with the requisite hipster labels: “100% natural,” “X g. Protein,” the predictable “Sriracha” and the inevitable, “Gluten Free.”

There’s chicken, because that’s what’s for dinner anymore. And it’s NOT beef. It’s bison, the cow’s sophisticated cousin from the range.

You knew what these REALLY were from the moment you flipped the pretty package over and saw the enticing block of melded meat parts, albeit including cranberries, the tight-fitting plastic wrap clutching the treat within.

These are the next generation of on-the-go meat snacks. But you won’t find them sold at a service station. They rest in woven baskets at gourmet, high-end and unique food stores. They sit waiting for the lucky consumer in bins at the exclusive corner market in Brooklyn, and yes, at our favorite grocery mecca, Trader Joe’s.

Come on. You knew it: Beneath the slick wrapper and trendy words, these are your old friend Slim Jim with an advanced degree in delicious. “Stout James,” you might say.

What the new set of duds and fancy stores really do are take away our Slim Jim guilt. “Look at all these great qualities,” we say, trying to fool ourselves that Epic treats are more energy bar than meaty meat bomb.

We’re wrong, of course. But it’s a nervous, naughty, joyful wrong. When Epic slips out of his pop packaging, this bad boy’s all Jimbo. Healthier, classier, but still. Wink.

And while we’re devouring every speck, we choose to ignore the truth for a giddy glimpse of gas station bliss.

How to make the best popcorn ever

31 Mar

How to make popcorn that’s easy, healthy and super yummy! It just takes three ingredients from Trader Joe’s and a microwave popcorn popper.

Why Trader Joe’s is My, and America’s, Happy Place

5 Mar This container of candy from Trader Joe's holds a world of kindness

We all have rotten days. Yesterday was one of mine. Or at least, a day where things didn’t come together well, posed more problems than it solved, and just left me with a sad, crummy feeling.

And I needed to go to Trader Joe’s.

So, I tucked my feelings under my hat and went.

Walking around hunting and gathering for my dinner, I smiled at other shoppers and TJ’s staffers. I was OK. But as I walked to check out, I got sad again. Of course, that’s not too weird – feeling better walking around TJ’s, and getting sad as I’m leaving!

The checker Shaun greeted me with, “How ya doing?!” I said, sluggishly, “OK.” He said, “Just OK?” “Yeah,” I said. We continued chatting a bit. He loaded my bag and put it in the cart.

As we waited for my chipped card to finish processing, Shaun asked, “Do you like chocolate? Do you like dried fruit?” I said yes.

He walked to the product pylon by the check out lane, picked up a container of chocolate-covered dried fruit, put it on top of my bag and said, “I hope you have a good evening!”

I was blown away. And this isn’t the only time I’ve encountered amazingly kind behavior at Trader Joe’s. The store’s feel-good culture is an example for us all in how to care and treat each other. Just a little kindness goes such a long way. Thank you, Shaun! And thank you, Trader Joe’s.

A pot of gold

This container holds a world of kindness

 

Image

Happy New Year, everyone! 2016 is going to be yummy!

1 Jan

IMG_0244_Choc2016

A Christmas Story from Trader Joe’s

23 Dec

EucalyptusI was headed to the 12-items-or-less line on a Saturday afternoon with a basket of four things. The woman in front of me had two items – a package of eucalyptus and a rosemary tree.

At first she rolled her cart back to let me through. I said, “I’m going behind you!” As I took my position in line, she held up the eucalyptus package to my nose and said, “Smell this!” Of course, it was wonderful. I thanked her for sharing the fresh scent. Then she had me smell the rosemary – again, lovely – and even broke off a little bit to share with me.

She was drinking a coffee sample. I was a little tired, and realized I forgot to get a sipper. She immediately offered to hold my spot for me to go get a cup, pushing my basket in front of her cart.

I went to get the coffee, and I chatted with the woman in charge of the sample station. She pointed to an envelope full of coupons and said that a woman left it there, and she described the coupon owner. The physical description was similar but not exact to the woman in line, but the sample woman said, “She was so nice.”

I went back to the line and asked the woman, “Do you collect coupons?” She said, “Yes!” enthusiastically, and then turned to realize her envelope was gone. I told her it was at the sample station, and before I could get it for her, she was off to retrieve the pack.

She got back and said, “See, if you hadn’t gone for a coffee, I wouldn’t have gotten my coupons!”

The line finally reached the check out. She insisted I stay in front of her. She said, “You have so little!” I pushed back, “But I have twice as much as you!” She wouldn’t relent.

I told the guy at the check out that the lady behind me was one of the sweetest people I’d ever met. The checker – Cory – turned to her and said, “I’ve been hearing some really good things about you.” She said, “You have?” Cory looked at her basket and said, “You know what, for being so sweet, I’m not going to charge you for the eucalyptus.”

She looked at me with a big smile and said, “Merry Christmas.”

I said, “Merry Christmas, to you,” and left.

Several times I started to introduce myself and ask her name, but then got distracted by something and didn’t. I hope I see her again. She may have gotten the gift of the eucalyptus, but she was a gift for those she talked with even for a moment.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! Wishing you that warm, fuzzy Trader Joe’s joy all year long.

Happy Hanukkah!

13 Dec

Another example of TJ’s “One-Buck-Chuck” greeting cards for every occasion! We hope everyone celebrating this holiday of light had a bright Hanukkah!

ChanukahCard

 

 

 

 

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