Tag Archives: TJs

simple pleasures

27 Dec

Things that make me happy:

The Pear Cinnamon Cider from Trader Joe’s is off-the-hook amazing. I’m afraid it will disappear right after the holidays, as many of the goodies they have this time of year do, so I’ve stockpiled several containers of it. SO FREAKING GOOD.

What makes it better? Drinking it with a nice lil’ Blueberry Gas Station Pie. Nom.

Blueberry Gas Station Pie

1/2 recipe Basic Pie Crust
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. water
1 teas. vanilla

Prepare pie crust per directions and let chill in fridge for at least 45 minutes before using.

To prepare the blueberry filling, in a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Mix until combined and no clumps exist in the cornstarch. Add the blueberries and water and cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until mixture becomes bubbly and berries begin to release their juices, about 10 minutes. Once bubbling, add the vanilla and lower heat to medium-low and continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken and can coat the back of a spoon well. Transfer blueberry mixture to a separate bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove crust from fridge and divide into 6 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a round disc, approximately 5-6 inches in diameter. Evenly divide the filling between the dough discs, scooping it onto one side of the dough. Fold dough over and pinch to seal (you may need to moisten the edges of the dough slightly to ensure a good seal). Using the tip of a knife, make a small air vent on the top of each pie. Carefully transfer the pies to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake pies for 18-23 minutes, or until they look lightly golden and slightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool before brushing on a light glaze, made from a mixture of powdered sugar and a splash of your milk of choice, combined to your desired thickness.

Makes: 6 pies


dinner with my ladies

4 Nov

Cold weather inspires comfort food. Given that my poorly adapted Portland body has been heading to work in 40 degree weather, comforting meals have been calling me.

Behold the classic soup and sammie combo:


Tomato soup with a panini-pressed sandwich. The sandwich is on Dave’s bread with one side smeared with a garlicky bean spread and the other with kalamata olive Tofutti cream cheese, with grilled eggplant and zucchini in the middle (from Trader Joe’s).

Here is my soup dilemma- I like really creamy tomato soup and haven’t been able to make it really creamy and not resembling the flavor and consistency of tomato sauce. Recipes/ideas/help?

My ladies like to assist in the dinnertime routine.


Always proper, Bindhi coaches me on my table etiquette.


Josie supervises in a DOT foreman kind of way- gazing out the window and ignoring me, but everything must pass her smell test.


10 Jun

So, I’ve had some stuff in my personal life sidetracking me from blogging, so excuse my absence. Things will be back to normal soon.

In the meantime… reminder:


The Portland contribution to the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is in less than 2 week, on June 20th, at People’s, so please come and eat some yummies for the kitties!

With the warm weather we had in Portland recently (90 in June? Unheard of!) we have taken to eating pretty lightly, which has been refreshing.


This was a quick dinner, trying to use up some produce, as I have a tendency to over-purchase vegetables… chickpeas sauteed in a little EB with some nooch, asparagus, garlic broccolini and our standard issue quinoa. Simple, satisfying and yummy.


A bed of baby greens, topped with black beans that I cooked with some garlic and a little cumin, sweet corn, zucchini, avocado and some chips and salsa on the side. The chips are these new little corn chip “dippers” from Trader Joe’s that are like Fritos but a million times better. Well, I was never a fan of Fritos, so I’m a bit biased.


I wanted to make some Italian cookies with pine nuts in them and came across this recipe by Giada on the Food Network. I’m not one to normally have much faith in the Food Network, but the recipe was basically vegan, it involved chocolate (always a plus) and it seemed pretty authentically European, using little sugar, so my interest was piqued. Being skeptical of our American palettes accepting something that tastes less sweet, I added my new topping du jour: demerara sugar mixed with a pinch of fleur de sel. I’ve found that 1 tbsp. of sugar to 1/4 teas. of salt is a great mix for dipping cookies and it gives them a nice, slightly sweet crunch accompanied with the occasion tang of salt. The topping definitely helped. They were a little crumbly, more like a biscuit-type cookie, and the flavor was greatly aided by the chocolate chunks. I really like pine nuts, but they didn’t really do it for me in this recipe. Can’t win them all.


While I worked on these cookies, Linus made himself comfortable on the blanket that he pushed off the back of the couch. Spoiled kitteh…

More stuff to come, including some yummy reviews… it just might take me a week or so. Cheers!

dinner in a flash

18 May

Okay, so I promise no posts with strawberries for awhile. 🙂

We are gathered here today to celebrate the quick meal. The effortless menu you can lean on after a long day at work. The dinner you can throw together in a flash, especially if you’ve planned and have some choice ingredients ready to go. With a little assistance from my friend, Trader Joe, of course.

Eggplant thing

A jar of some eggplant caponata from TJ’s, sauteed with some fresh zucchini and served with quinoa on the side. Light, summery and fresh, what more can you ask for? I did dishes while the quinoa cooked in the rice cooker, let it sit while sauteeing the zucchini, then added the caponata to the zucchini and let it simmer for a few minutes. Dinner was served, tangy and flavor.

bindhi ricotta

This was a “what do we have that requires minimal effort?” meal. I knew I wanted to make my tofu ricotta because we hadn’t had it in awhile. I had to modify a little because I had no tahini and no basil, but it worked. After a little rummaging, some whole wheat pasta was unearthed, along with a jar of garlic tomato sauce. Bindhi initially gave it her seal of approval. When something smells good enough to please her feline sensibilities, she air-chews, making this odd little noise you might make if you were pretending to eat something crunchy. Here, she is in mid-chew. After being allowed to try a piece of pasta, though, she retracted the air-chew.


Trader Joe’s recently started carrying a new aseptic soup called “Garden Patch Veggie Soup”. Essentially, it’s V-8 in soup form. I’m not a big fan of things so tomato-based, but decided to give it a try. It’s a consistently thick, pureed soup, so I jazzed it up with some onion, zucchini, green beans, and carrots. It was alright, but probably won’t be made again, as we’re just not big fans of tomato in that form. On the side you see my Green White Bean Spread, paired up with some crusty artisan bread. Ooh, baby. I could eat a vat of it with chewy, yeasty bread. Heavenly.

Green White Bean Spread

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 head roasted garlic
1/4 teas. salt

In a pan, sautee spinach in olive oil on medium heat. Cover and cook until spinach is wilted. Add cannellini beans, mixing to combine. Add unpeeled garlic cloves. Cook until heated through. Remove from heat and add salt. Process mixture in a food processor until processed through and creamy, adding water one tablespoon at a time if needed.

Serve with crudites and bread. Yields: 1 1/2 cups.

Further proof that I do indeed eat more than just baked good and, now, strawberries and rhubarb.

i spoke too soon

6 Apr

Apparently my friend Joe heard that I had fallen off of the chocolate wagon and came to my rescue.

I swear, Trader Joe’s just keeps rolling out more vegan goodness. It’s like a new, animal-free surprise every time I shop. The treat this week, dark chocolate mint “UFOs”.


They are basically hugely oversized chocolate chips. I am at a loss as to what to do with them, so for now I’ll keep eating them by the palmful. I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the chocolate and of course I love all things chocolate and mint.

Last week was a really stressful week for me at work and Jim continued taking the reign of dinner preparation. Keeping it healthy, our dinner on Friday was a millet pilaf with sauteed onions and garlic, pinto beans and sweet corn, served over kale.


Even though it appears to be a big ol’ pile of beige, it was remarkably tasty and will probably enter into regular rotation. The only change I’d make is to add more pintos. My tequila sunrise is on the horizon, much needed after a too-long week.

On Sunday I REALLY wanted brunch, but really didn’t want to cook. After whining for about 30 minutes and then imagining the 1 hour wait at Jam on Hawthorne (our favorite breakfast place) I caved and started making brunch. Jim is happy with toast and coffee, but I just can’t live like that on Sunday, it’s uncivilized.


I made the apple peanut butter pancakes from Peanut Butter Planet with white whole wheat flour and subbing water with some agave for the apple juice called for. I appropriately served these up with some applesauce and what Jim deemed my “best tofu scramble ever” with dried basil, artichokes, kalamata olives, shallots, sundried tomatoes and fresh spinach. On the side, some kiwi.

Now, am I alone here, because I always eat the skin on my kiwis. I never knew that other people didn’t until I moved to Minnesota in middle school and kids started picking on me. Minnesotans not eating kiwi skin didn’t strike me as odd because these were the same people who were wearing toe-socks and sandals to school in January. But I have since been looked at with disgust for eating something “furry” while living in other parts of the country. Half of the flavor is in the skin! Can I get a witness?

dinner and a workout

15 Mar

My beloved Trader Joe’s has added some more vegan goodies to their store and I am here to share them with you. I swear to my cats that I am not paid by them, because that would be my dream job, rather I am a fanatical shopper who you have the fortune or misfortune of reading the blog of. 🙂

First off-


Chicken-less Stuffed Cutlets. Chikey-style cutlets, stuffed with black beans and corn in a flavorful red sauce with mild jalapenos. Unlike most TJ’s finds, a little pricey for regular consumption, but again it’s convenience food so there you go.


Black Cherry Gel Cups. Imagine my surprise when my eyes honed in on that little “V” in the bottom left hand corner. Vegan jello cups! Bestill my heart! They have black cherry and peach mango. With Jim not being the biggest fan of mango, I went with black cherry.

So, how do you make dinner and fit in a workout in 30 minutes?

1.) Rinse 1 cup quinoa thoroughly and toss in your rice cooker. Add 1 2/3 cups water. Set it and forget it. 🙂

2.) Do 1 level of the Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred Work-out DVD (22 minutes), which I will now admit is a great workout, but I still think she’s mean. 🙂

3.) Quinoa will be done, open lid and let set.

4.) Place water in a pot with a steamer tray and bring to a boil. Add pre-washed green beans and put a lid on it!

5.) Cut a little air vent in the Chicken-less Cutlets bag and microwave for 2 minutes.

6.) Plate it all up and nomnomnom. Also remember to drink plenty of water!


The cutlet was pretty darn good. The sauce was plentiful and tasted great and the cutlet itself, while a little smaller than I’d imagined, was very tasty and packed full of beans and corn. We ate the quinoa in the most simple way possible, but in a way we’d never tried- with a little pat of Earth Balance melted on top and a sprinkling of salt. So good! Who’d of though that something that small would make something uber good, but it certainly did!

One step dessert: Peel back foil from gel cup. Serve.


The gello has a good texture and excellent flavor. It is thickened with carragennan and is all natural, of course. I can’t wait to try the peach mango. I’ll get it next time and what makes it better is that I won’t have to share with Jim!

Oh, and while you’re hanging on the interwebs, check it: my brother in Minneapolis has started his own vegetarian food blog. He is a cook of the most virtuous variety, he actually cooks with what he has in his kitchen. If only I were that smart and economical. He’s a newish cook who likes to break all the rules (or stray from the directions to his liking), and he’s documenting his experiments in his Veggie Lab. Check out his blog and show him some love, he’s new to this whole food blogging thing and is still finding this sea legs.

goodness in a bowl

26 Feb

Some of the best things in life come in bowls. Ice cream, cereal, pudding, all good things indeed. But wholesome meals can come in bowls, too.

Like pesto pasta:


Sure, you don’t have to eat pasta in a bowl… but I think it’s tastes better this way. 🙂 This pasta is whole wheat penne from, where else, Trader Joe’s. It’s coated with my tofu ricotta with 1 1/2 cups of basil blended in and just enough water to get it to the right consistency. With some toasted pine nuts on top for crunch, muy bueno. Pesto is besto!

In Minnesota, wild rice rules the winter months. And if you’ve ever lived in Minnesota, you’ve probably heard of Byerly’s famous Wild Rice Soup. Byerly’s is the ritzy grocery store in in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Our wedding cake was actually from there, but that was in our pregan (pre-vegan) days, so if you happen upon Byerly’s you won’t find it abound with vegan treats. Quite the opposite, actually. Anyhow, their Wild Rice Soup is renowned and was a personal vice when we lived in Minnesota so using my trusty Byerly’s cookbook, I made my own vegan adaptation to relive those glory days in a cruelty-free way.

Wild Rice Soup

Wild Rice Soup

Byerly’s Veg-Adapted Wild Rice Soup

5 tbsp. margarine
1/2 small onion, minced
1/3 cup flour
6-7 cups veggie stock
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 teas. salt
1 cup soy creamer or other milk
2 medium carrots, finely shredded
2 tbsp white wine (optional)
1 cup vegan ham, cubed (optional)
sliced almonds for garnish

In a stockpot on medium low heat, melt margarine and sautee onions until translucent. Whisk in flour to make a paste and then whisk in 1 cup of the veggie stock to incorporate. Add the rest of the veggie stock and increase heat to medium-high, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Lower to medium low and add wild rice and salt. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add creamer, carrots, and white wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add vegan ham, if using, and let soup simmer for 3 more minutes. Serve soup with almonds on top for a garnish.

Makes about 6-8 servings, depending on size.

After refrigerating, like other hearty soups, this soup can become very thick and stew-like, so you may need to add some water to thin it out. Or you can do what Jim did and spoon it onto a slice of bread and declare that you are eating an all inclusive soup-sandwich. 🙂