Tag Archives: california

When is pasta not pasta? When it’s mushroom.

2 Mar

For me, cooking is usually an arts-and-crafts project or a science experiment. I imagine that certain flavors will go together well and then test the theory.

Other times, I challenge myself by trying to recreate an amazing dish I’ve had at a restaurant. Like I did this week.

Recently, I went with friends to John Bentley’s in Redwood City, Calif. Everything on the menu sounded delicious and I thought it was going to be hard to decide what to order, until I got to the end of the menu and found: “Trumpet Mushroom “Pappardelle” with tomato, garlic, basil,Kalamatas, edamame and Pecorino Romano.”

Mushroom Pappardelle

A carbless delicious beauty from John Bentley’s

The waiter said the chef created Pappardelle from mushrooms. The dish had a red sauce, and it was like a pasta dish without the pasta. I was so intrigued I had to order it. And WOW! It was SO delicious!

A week later, I decided to try to recreate the dish with a few embellishments.

For my mushroom pasta, I did not use edamame or fresh basil, although there was basil in the pasta sauce. I used shiitake mushrooms, garlic, Kalamata olives, spinach, onion, tofu and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan on top. I went with the short cut of using Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Maranara sauce.

I started by sautéing garlic and onion in olive oil.

Step one, saute onions and garlic in olive oil.

Onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil.

Then I added the mushrooms, olives, tofu and spinach.

A garden in a skillet

Ingredients. Not pictured: sauce, cheese.

After the vegetables were softened, about 10-15 minutes, I poured in some marinara sauce, sprinkled shredded Parmesan on top and. SOOO good!! (To make it vegan, don’t add the cheese at the end.)

As you can tell with the difference in ingredients and stage presence, it wasn’t exactly the meal I had at John Bentley’s, but it was close enough and very satisfying!

Give it a try!  Add your own twists, and please share your recipe thoughts in the comments.

Bon appetite!

Chicken Poppers: The Mexican Falafal

9 Dec

I’m not a falafel fan. But when I approached the Redondo Beach Trader Joe’s today, I was hungry.

What I saw was a paper cup with a falafel-looking bite accompanied by guacamole. I was hungry, and I love guacamole.

Tasty taste of Chicken Popper and guac

As I said, I WAS hungry, so that factor could have clouded my falafel-averse tastebuds, but the Chicken Popper bite I had was good enough to tempt me to buy a whole box. Plus the Avocado’s Number Guacamole, which was mighty tasty, too.

Trader Joe's has guacamole's number

I hesitated, though, because the calorie count and fat content were on the high side. The tasting bar-ista suggested they were meant as appetizers, which made me think of the uber delectable Kale and Spinach bites. You can bet that once inside your house, the balls of delight will mysteriously disappear between the time you take them out of the oven to when the plate arrives in front of your guests.


Instead of saying, “180 calories per 3-piece serving. Box contains 4 servings,” the box should read, “720 calories per serving. Box contains 1 serving.” Psychologically, if you can restrain yourself, you’ll feel like, “I have many fewer calories than I could have!”

The falafel issue
Both the taste and texture of the Chicken Popper were reminiscent of its Middle Eastern cousin. But the crunch in the CP comes from crushed tortilla chips, and the protein element traded chicken for chick peas.

If you don’t like falafel, you may really like Chicken Poppers. If you love falafel, you’ll probably love them.

Suggestion: Perhaps the next time you have falafel, whip up some guacamole to go with it – or just buy a batch from Trader Joe’s.

West Los Angeles Coffee Station Style

15 Apr

Hello, sweetener!

What a difference a day and about 2,000 miles make. Back in America’s heartland, we’re offered household sugar at our Trader Joe’s coffee tasting station. But in West Los Angeles, I was greeted at the coffee counter by Liquid Stevia and Blue Agave Sweetener.

Another way TJ’s knows its customers and makes it local.

more options for your additives

Coffee ala L.A.


Just sugar packs, please

The humble sugar packs of Trader Joe’s Kansas City

Galluping into the New Year

28 Dec

Trader Joe’s creative labeling is as much a feast for the eyes as the food and drink are for the lips!

I found some wine selections that offer a trifecta of tasty reds. In the race for New Year’s festive libation, you might want to pony up for one of these:

14 Hands

14 Hands: The front runner?

Wild Horse

Wild Horse on the inside

Dark Horse or crowd favorite?

Dark Horse or crowd favorite?

Have a safe and fun weekend! Cheers!

Thank you, TJ’s.

And thank you for visiting Things I Love at Trader Joe’s!

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @TraderJoesKC

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A good thing to do with watermelon, mint and feta cheese

24 Sep

The weather’s getting cooler, but there’s still watermelon on the shelves. Time to savor the last refreshing taste of summer!

Watermelon + mint + feta = it’s what’s for dinner

Full disclosure: This compilation of flavors is similar to a salad I enjoyed in California two months ago. I drew from that inspiration to mix this meal together:

  • Watermelon
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Feta cheese (I strongly recommend the full-strength Feta, not the non-fat)
  • Sweet onion

Other possibilities:

  • Cucumber
  • Black and/or green olives
  • Cilantro
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Dressing: Olive oil and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar

This is the kind of salad that I ate and immediately looked forward to the next batch!


Thank you, Trader Joe’s!

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @TraderJoesKC

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Pinterest: Trader Joe’s

Related Links:

Lyfe Kitchen

Epicurious recipe

Paula Deen’s watermelon salad

Festive, bubbly Trader Joe’s: Spanish sparkling wine

3 Sep

A holiday weekend. A beautiful evening with a few friends gathered at your house. Interesting conversation. Lots of laughter. It’s obviously time to break out the bubbly and make it a party.

Labor Day 2012 presents …

Now it’s a party: Albero Spanish sparkling wine

Fruity, refreshing and bubbleful.Relax. Enjoy. And cheers to my mom. It’s her birthday today.

“Cheers!” A fun night with friends and family

Thank you, Trader Joe’s, and happy Labor Day!

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @TraderJoesKC

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Pinterest: Trader Joe’s

Related Links:

Albero company site

A toast to chick lit

RECIPE: White raspberry sangria

Travel snacks from Trader Joe’s

1 Aug

I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I don’t usually take snacks. Yes, I think I’m that tough. “Because I don’t have any snacks with me, I just won’t get hungry and I won’t eat anything,” I say to myself. Then I add, “Maybe I’ll get some gum.”

Despite the bravado and the gum, invariably I become ravenous before boarding, panic and buy some over-priced, unhealthy food item at the airport shop-ette, feeling the fatty junk-food goodness slide into my system, calorie by calorie.

This time, I’m vowing, it’s going to be different.

I’m traveling soon and while on my recent Trader Joe’s run, I selected an assortment of palette-pleasing treats verging on the healthy – or at least on the not SO unhealthy – side.

My health-conscious travel snacks

First and foremost, I had to appeal to my overriding love of salt. I thought the cheese would be a good alternative to crackers and steer me away from that evil standby – chips.

As for satisfying the sweet side, I tried to veer away from chocolate (melt prone and fat laden), keep it small (I usually need just a tiny bit), and even possibly include something healthy (that would be the roasted and processed plantains, and the sugary fruit leather).

Then there is the box of brown rice “Rice Crispy Treats.”  I’ve been wanting an excuse to try them and am grateful for my sudden brainstorm to accommodate that urge. If they’re all I’ve dreamed they would be, I’ll give them a post of their own soon.

TILATJ (i.e. this blog) will be on the road for a bit. I hope to collect reports about TJ’s in other towns to share with you along the way, or when I return, depending on what my down time will allow. I’ll definitely let you know how my travel snack companions fared.

Do you have any favorite travel snacks that err on the side of healthy, or fall under the category, “not-as-unhealthy-as-it-could-have-been?” Please share, and we can all put the ideas on our list for our next trip.

Thanks, all! And, thank you, TJ’s.

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Twitter: @TraderJoesKC

Follow Things I Love at Trader Joe’s on Pinterest: Trader Joe’s

Related Links:

Whole Living – Best Snacks for the Road

10 Favorite, Healthy Snacks

Packing snacks for air travel

Live Strong: Healthy snacks to take on long flights



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